JACKSON, Mich., May 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Consumers Energy customers saved an estimated $38 million last year by implementing a wide-range of electric and natural gas energy efficiency measures. Over the lifetime of these energy-efficiency measures, total savings are estimated to be $428 million.
The utility estimates that customers have saved more than 250,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually of electricity and more than 935 million cubic feet (MMcf) of natural gas. Those energy savings are enough to supply electricity to 30,000 residential homes and natural gas to 9,700 residential homes on an annual basis.
Consumers Energy launched the energy optimization programs in response to Michigan’s 2008 energy reform law. That law requires Consumers Energy and other utilities to work with customers to reduce electric use by 5.5 percent and natural gas use by 3.85 percent by 2015.
Due to significant levels of customer participation, Consumers Energy substantially exceeded the second-year savings required by the energy reform law. The electric programs delivered 143 percent above the target and the natural gas programs delivered 144 percent above the target.
"We are working on our customers’ behalf everyday to offer energy efficiency programs that make a difference to our customers," said Dan Malone, senior vice president distribution and customer operations for Consumers Energy. "Customers are saving money and reducing their energy bill because of these programs, one of the primary goals of Michigan’s energy reform law."
In 2010, more than 200,000 residential customers and more than 5,100 business customers participated in at least one of the energy efficiency programs. More than 10,000 highly efficient gas furnaces were installed, replacing less efficient furnaces. About 1.2 million compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) were installed. More than 125 major Michigan retailers supported the energy efficiency effort by offering CFLs discounted up to half the normal purchase price, made possible by funding from Consumers Energy.
During the first two years of the program about 15,000 older, inefficient "second" refrigerators and freezers were picked up from customer homes. About 98 percent of parts from these units were recycled at a facility in Livonia. Meanwhile, a new appliance transfer facility opened in Grand Rapids to support statewide expansion of this program.
Implementation contractors who operate the programs for Consumers Energy have added at least 86 full-time employees because of these energy efficiency programs. Separately, Consumers Energy works with 1,700 trade allies and 30 Community Action Agencies which have created jobs because of these programs.
"We have a staff of more than 40 people in mid-Michigan working as a result of Consumers Energy’s energy efficiency programs," said Chuck Kier, operations manager for Okemos-based KEMA Services, Inc., the implementation contractor for the commercial program. "Mechanical and electrical contractors throughout Michigan are enthusiastic about the positive economic impact created by these programs." More than 780 contractors and energy service providers work on these programs with KEMA, which has more than 80 years of experience providing energy-related technical consulting services.
Consumers Energy’s energy optimization programs include incentives for the purchase of highly efficient equipment and appliances; home energy audits; and an information campaign to help customers understand and choose the benefits of energy efficiency. Incentives are provided for customer purchases of highly efficient heating and cooling systems, water heaters, appliances, lighting and other energy efficiency measures.
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.