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Consumers Energy to bury 10 miles of powerlines in six counties

Michigan Public Service Commission

West Michigan counties are part of a Consumers Energy pilot project to move overhead electric lines underground beginning by April

Consumers Energy has big plans, and they call them The Reliability Roadmap – a five-year project to improve the ability of the system to withstand severe weather, and to restore power more quickly when it does go out.

A first step is to test moving lines underground in areas often hit hard by high winds.

“And show our cost-per-mile is competitive with the traditional method of doing construction aboveground and then spending money year after year after year trimming trees.”

Greg Salisbury is the Vice President of Electric Distribution Engineering.

The $3.7 million pilot project will put 10 miles of line underground starting in Ottawa, Allegan, and Montcalm counties, then Iosco, Genesee and Livingston.

Consumers tested new technology, techniques, and materials during construction of subdivisions over the last few years.

Salisbury says now is the time to move forward, citing a 20-year trend of ever-increasing severe weather, wind gusts and temperature extremes.

“How unusual to have multiple tornadoes across our state in the month of February. So there’s definitely things happening in weather that didn’t use to happen and all of our work is designed to get us ahead of that weather change as well as upgrade and modernize the system.”

The 10-mile pilot project should be complete by the end of the year.

Consumers would like to bury 1000 miles of lines over the next five years if regulators approve.

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