Several bucket trucks roll into a Michigan neighborhood with equipment and crews on board facing an important mission: improving the reliability of power to the homes and businesses within it.

After reviewing the agenda for the day, crews get to work as neighbors and employees of nearby businesses watch, including a pastor who shakes his head and marvels at the commitment to keeping the power by using innovative technology.

First, the crew must remove the equipment no longer needed from the pole. And then comes the challenging part, safely hoisting an Automatic Transfer Recloser (ATR) and mounting it to a pole 25 feet in the air.

These 800-pound devices have prevented hundreds of thousands of outages over the last few years, including nearly 70,000 outages in 2023. And we expect the new 116 ATRs installed this year will prevent even more power outages.

Pastor James Hines of Lily Missionary Baptist Church greeted the team tasked with improving reliability in the Jackson neighborhood where his church has provided a place of worship for nearly three decades.

“It’s great to see all the work taking place to make our neighborhood a better place to live and work,” said Hines. “We have a great community and Consumers Energy makes it even better.”

The ATRs deenergize impacted electric lines and transfer power automatically, reducing power outages and impact to customers.

They are a critical component of our Reliability Roadmap, our plan for smarter and stronger grid, which includes investments in smart technology and automation, forestry work and infrastructure upgrades. It’s a blueprint for serving Michigan today while investing and innovating to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

We will invest nearly $24 million in smart technology this year to keep the lights on for customers. Nearly 3,000 line sensors – the most we have ever installed in a year – are being deployed throughout Michigan to help our teams detect issues.

The line sensors and ATRs will enable crews to work more efficiently by identifying problems more quickly, leading to less frequent and shorter power outages.

Hines said he was impressed how crews adapt to whatever community they are serving in. He welcomed the team and asked what brought them to the neighborhood.

“They told me, ‘We are Consumers (Energy) and we are here to bring reliability to the community,’” Hines said. “And it just made me feel good.”

Dennis Fletcher, lineworker in charge of the crew, said the ATRs are beneficial to the customer.

“If you take care of the small things, like the ATRs do, then the bigger things should never happen,” Fletcher said.

Pastor Hines believes the work being done in his neighborhood is proof that Consumers Energy has the best interests in mind for keeping the power on in all the neighborhoods we serve.

“I don’t care how pretty you are if you aren’t plugged in, you won’t have light,” said Hines. “That’s what Consumers (Energy) is to me. They are the socket that keeps us plugged in.”