The 30,000-mile pipeline network we use to safely deliver natural gas throughout Michigan functions much like a highway system.

Transmission line “expressways” moving massive amounts of natural gas connect to smaller distribution lines, bringing natural gas to homes and businesses.

And facilities like our Freedom Compressor Station help direct traffic and keep the natural gas flowing.

Freedom, located in Washtenaw County, takes in natural gas bought for customers at lower prices and houses it in an extensive underground storage field, then boosts pressure when needed — like Michigan’s coldest winter days—to push supplies to the transmission network.

This fall, we finished installing five new units to safely transport natural gas to customers and storage fields as part of a $260 million overhaul to the Freedom Compressor Station. The project is part of our Natural Gas Delivery Plan, a 10-year, $11 billion road map to make its gas system even more safe, reliable, affordable and clean.

The new, high-tech compressor units ? which replaced equipment dating to the 1940s ? will help us monitor and adjust gas flow more easily and run more efficiently to reduce air emissions.

“The upgrades at Freedom Compressor Station are a win for our customers, the communities we serve and the planet,” said Dennis Dobbs, Consumers Energy’s vice president of gas engineering and supply. “Since 2018, we’ve invested about $1 billion annually to modernize our system — a commitment we plan to continue in the coming decade. We are committed to creating a cleaner and more resilient natural gas future for Michigan.”

Each of Freedom’s five compressors are enormous V-12 engines, capable of generating more than 3,750 horsepower. They’ve replaced 13 aging units the company has retired and plans to remove in 2023.

The Freedom upgrades are the latest in a coordinated effort to modernize our compression fleet over the past decade. We previously invested hundreds of millions of dollars to overhaul the White Pigeon (2010), Ray (2013) and St. Clair (2017) compressor stations.

In all, our eight compressor stations support one of the nation’s largest underground storage systems, which includes 15 fields and nearly 1,000 wells, totaling 309 billion cubic feet of gas storage capacity. The stored gas is within the state and readily available. On average, gas storage assets have supplied approximately 50% of the natural gas we provide to customers during winter and can supply up to approximately 80% on peak days if needed.

“We provide natural gas to more than 4 million people in 45 counties and we’re working to shield those customers from price volatility,” Dobbs said. “Our vast storage system allows us to buy large amounts of natural gas when it’s cheapest and pass those savings along to customers during the winter when demand is highest. Freedom Compressor Station and our compression fleet are an invaluable component of that equation.”

Read about how we’re fixing an aging pipeline problem.