Consumers Energy Installing Smart Technology Devices to Improve Electric Reliability

Consumers Energy in Jackson says it will invest nearly $24 million in smart technology this year to prevent power outages and keep the lights on for customers.
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Consumers Energy says its installing 3,000 line sensors and more than 100 automatic transfer reclosers throughout Michigan to bolster the electric grid. // Photo courtesy of Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy in Jackson says it will invest nearly $24 million in smart technology this year to prevent power outages and keep the lights on for customers.

The utility nearly 3,000 line sensors, the most that Consumers Energy has ever installed in a year, and more than 100 automatic transfer reclosers (ATRs) are being deployed throughout Michigan.

“Consumers Energy has made a commitment with our Reliability Roadmap to ultimately restore power in 24 hours or less,” said Chris Laird, vice president of electric operations at Consumers Energy’s. “New technology like this is an important tool as we make the grid more reliable for all our customers. We’re excited and know these devices will continue keeping us on track to serve close to 2 million Michigan homes and businesses more reliably every hour of every day.”

ATRs and line sensors are cutting-edge reliability technologies, according to Consumers Energy.  ATRs isolate outages by detecting power loss and automatically re-route power in another direction. Line sensors predict problems on the grid and alert crews in real time with exact locations, preventing outages before they happen. Together, these technologies enable crews to identify problems quickly and precisely and reduce the size and length of power outages.

Consumers Energy estimates ATRs have helped to prevent hundreds of thousands of outages over the past few years. In 2023 alone, ATRs prevented outages for nearly 70,000 customers by isolating outages to the smallest area possible.

“ATRs and line sensors are both instrumental when storms strike and cause outages,” says Greg Salisbury, vice president of electric engineering at Consumers Energy. “They will be a big part of our reliability future and keeping the power on for our customers.”

Smart technology is a key component of the Reliability Roadmap, Consumers Energy’s plan for a smarter and stronger electric grid. The plan also includes investments in forestry work and infrastructure upgrades, with tactics like installing iron poles to withstand Michigan’s severe weather and burying overhead powerlines. It is a blueprint for serving Michigan today while investing and innovating to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.8 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

For more information about Consumers Energy, go to ConsumersEnergy.com.