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Updated December 15, 2009, 10:01 pm

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Consumers Energy History

For 125 years, Consumers Energy has provided some of the most valuable services in the world. Whether lighting a classroom in Grand Rapids, moving an assembly line in Flint, powering an X-ray machine in a Kalamazoo hospital or heating a home during the winter, Consumers Energy is part of the quality of life in Michigan. See Flickr photo album.

Consumers Energy was founded in 1886 by William Augustine Foote, a flour mill operator and entrepreneur who enjoyed tinkering with electricity. Foote’s innovative vision transformed his company from a small downtown lighting project to one of the nation’s largest utility companies.

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, provides electricity and/or natural gas to nearly 6.6 million of Michigan's 10 million residents and has operations in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Here is a timeline of key events that defined the company’s place in Michigan’s energy history. These milestones helped lay a foundation that enables the company to continue investing in the state’s energy future and serving Michigan families and businesses.

In the Beginning

1886 – William Augustine Foote and Samuel Jarvis team up and secure a Jackson franchise agreement from the Jackson Common Council. Their first service franchise is with the City of Jackson to illuminate the downtown area with arc lighting.

1888 - Foote and Jarvis form Jackson Electric Light Works. The company’s first headquarters is a two-story building off Mechanic Street.

1900 - Foote changes the company’s name to Jackson Light and Power Co.

Shaping the Future

1904 - Foote, having been successful around the state,
consolidates all his power companies from Albion, Battle Creek, Jackson, Kalamazoo and Plainwell and Ostego and renames the company Commonwealth Power Co.

1907 - Croton Hydro on the Muskegon River begins operating and later becomes the first facility in the world to transmit electricity at more than 110,000 volts.

1910 - Foote, along with Anton G. Hodenpyl and financer Enoch Clark, team up to create Consumers Power Co. Foote is named president, but Consumers Power Co. is incorporated in Maine. It becomes a Michigan corporation in 1968.

1920 - Consumers Power begins selling shares of preferred
stock to customers for $95 a share, with dividends of $7 a share.

1927 - New headquarters are completed in downtown Jackson.

Building a Foundation

1927 - The Mason-Dansville line enters operation, making farmers along that line the nation’s first rural power users.

1931 – The company lays a 40-mile pipeline from natural gas wells in Isabella County to Midland, replacing manufactured gas, which is made by heating coal.

1949 - Consumers Power brings electricity to its 100,000th Michigan farm, making Michigan the first state in the nation to reach that milestone.

Marvels in Engineering

1962 – The company builds Big Rock Point, the state’s first nuclear plant and the nation’s fifth. The Charlevoix facility is the world’s first high-power density boiling water reactor to generate commercial electricity.

1973 - Marysville gas reforming plant—the first of its kind in North America—produces its first supply of synthetic gas.

1973 - The Ludington pumped storage plant becomes the largest facility of its kind in the world, capable of serving 1.4 million people.

Growing Forward

1987 - The creation of CMS Energy holding company is announced. Principal subsidiaries are Consumers Power and CMS Enterprises, which is comprised of nonutility ventures.

1997 - Consumers Power changes its name to Consumers Energy.

1997 - The Tuscan Grill in Rochester becomes Consumers Energy’s 1.5 millionth natural gas customer.

1997 - The Big Rock Point nuclear plant, the nation's longest and oldest operating nuclear plant, shuts down after 35 years of safe operations.

The New Millennium

2000 - A Consumers Energy residential customer in St. Clair Shores is the 10,000th customer to sign up for the utility's electronic bill payment program. The Online Billing service is recognized as part of the 2000 Information Technology Innovation Collection, located at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. For online billing opportunities visit eServices.

2003 - Consumers Energy moves into new headquarters at One Energy Plaza in Jackson. The company earns one of the nation’s top Brownfield Development Awards for building on a contaminated industrial site.

2006 - The Big Rock Point nuclear site is completely restored to its natural state, a 475-acre greenfield along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

2007 - PeopleCare celebrates 25 years of helping Michigan residents in need. PeopleCare is funded by Consumers Energy, its customers and employees and is administered by The Salvation Army.

2007 - Consumers Energy introduces its Clean Energy Plan, a comprehensive plan to invest $6 billion into Michigan’s energy future by improving energy efficiency, building new power plants and utilizing more forms of renewable energy.

2009 - The online billing program celebrates its 10th anniversary. Renamed eServices in 2008, more than 400,000 customers have signed up for the free service to view and pay their bill electronically. Besides saving time and money, an eBill helps the environment.

2009 - The company launches new programs to help customers use electricity and natural gas more efficiently. New energy efficiency programs offer incentives to help customers stretch their energy dollars.

2010 - The company announces it has secured easements for nearly 60,000 acres for wind farm development in Michigan. Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County is scheduled for commercial operation in 2012. Cross Winds Energy Park in Tuscola and Huron counties is scheduled for commercial operation in two phases in 2015 and 2017.

2011 - On July 21, Consumers Energy’s 1.8 million electric customers set an all-time hourly peak record of 8,930 megawatts (MW), the highest level in the company’s 125-year history.

2011 -Consumers Energy celebrates 125 years of proudly serving the families and businesses of Michigan with safe, reliable energy around the clock. See Flickr photo album.

2012 - Record heat and Michigan’s strengthening economy drive customer electric demand on July 17 to its highest level ever. Customer demand hit a peak of 9,086 megawatts, surpassing the previous all-time record of 8,930 megawatts set on July 21, 2011. News release

2013: Consumers Energy issues its first accountability report, which details our efforts to meet Michigan’s energy needs, as we’ve done for more than 125 years. The report highlights how the unique challenges of our industry influence our strategy and how we’re doing in performance areas that are key to delivering value to our customers.

Consumers Energy 125 Years




Old Commonwealth Power Truck




Men Searching for Possible Hydro-electric Dam Locations




Dispatcher Office




Engineers Looking at Blueprints




Receiving a Safety Award