How Natural Gas Gets to Your Home
Where Does The Gas Come From?
Consumers Energy gets its natural gas from a variety of sources. About 60 percent comes from the Gulf Coast and Texas, Louisiana, Kansas and Oklahoma. An additional 25 percent comes from our neighbor Canada, and 15 percent comes from right here in Michigan. Consumers Energy purchases 100 percent of the gas we sell.
Transmission - Gas On the Move
Natural Gas is transported to Michigan through a vast network of underground pipelines. Huge compressors with many engines keep the gas moving in these transmission lines at pressures that range from 400 pounds per square inch (psi) to 960 psi. The engines in the compressors require a lot of power to operate. In fact, running our compressors makes us our own largest single customer of natural gas.
Once in Michigan, natural gas moves through our transmission lines to either a storage field or a city gate.
Consumers Energy stores natural gas by injecting it into natural porous rock formations located in depleted underground gas fields. These formations hold natural gas much like a sponge holds water. Consumers Energy buys gas during warmer months when it costs less and stores it in 15 underground storage fields located throughout Michigan. As temperatures cool down and furnaces heat up, the gas is pumped out to city gates for use by our customers. Storage fields hold about 45 percent of the supply needed to get our customers through a typical winter.
Before natural gas comes down your street and into your home, it passes through a “city gate.” Two important steps occur here. The pressure the gas is under to keep it moving in the large-diameter transmission pipeline is reduced from 500 - 960 pounds per square inch (psi) to 300 - 400 psi. Then odorant is added to the gas for safety purposes. The rotten egg smell is put in the gas so people can detect it.
Distribution and Service Lines
Distribution lines carry natural gas to the service lines that connect to customers’ meters. Along the way, regulation stands keep the gas moving at the right pressure (3/4 pounds per square inch (psi) for standard pressure to 55 psi for medium pressure). By the time the natural gas enters the meter at your home it has been reduced to about 1/4 psi. The gas meter measures how much gas is used and feeds the fuel line that enters your home.
It takes a lot of employees with specialized skills and knowledge to bring natural gas to your home. Consumers Energy has more than 2,000 employees in Michigan directly involved in fulfilling this task. Local contractors are utilized for installation and maintenance projects to efficiently serve customers during peak workloads.
Here are some of the jobs people do to provide your natural gas services
- Transmission and Storage Workers
- Pump gas in and out of storage fields
- Operate compressor stations
- Operate and maintain high pressure natural gas mains
- Distribution Workers
- Install new mains
- Operate, maintain and repair medium pressure natural gas mains
- Respond to gas emergencies
- Service Workers
- Install new service lines
- Replace meters
- Relight appliances in homes after an interruption in service
- Respond to gas emergencies
- Customer Energy Specialists
- Coordinate construction projects with other utilities and municipalities
- Design natural gas utility projects
- Damage Prevention Workers
- Damage Prevention field leaders
- Educate contractors about safe digging procedures
- On-the-job inspections to ensure safe digging procedures are followed
- Maintain records of damages
- Leak Survey
- School program educators
- Meter Readers
- Read meters to ensure proper billing
- Identify problems with meters, etc.