During a short trip to the grocery store, some drivers face the extreme of going from rural roads where they might be the only vehicle – to a highway where hundreds of vehicles navigate around each other to reach their destinations.

This compares to how electricity flows on our Low Voltage (LVD) and High Voltage Distribution (HVD) systems. The LVD act as the local roads getting power to individual homes in rural and residential areas on the ends of our grid. While HVD represents the larger highway carrying more bulk electric capacity and serving larger areas of the state, providing more widespread benefit to our customers.

That’s why investing in our HVD system is essential to a more reliable and resilient power grid for Consumers Energy’s customers. We just announced a $100 million investment in our HVD system in 2022 that will help reduce both the number and length of power outages

“As an energy provider, we know keeping the lights on is job number one for us,”said Tim Sparks, Consumers Energy’s vice president of electric grid integration. “As weather becomes more severe, Michigan needs a power grid that’s more reliable and resilient. That’s why these upgrades are so important.  The HVD system is the backbone of our power grid. Making these improvements will help us deliver more reliable energy that is clean and affordable to our electric customers.”

Lines are a large part the planned investment to the HVD system in 2022. Plans include rebuilding nearly 40 miles of HVD lines, rehabilitating over 64 miles of HVD line pole top equipment, replacing 750 poles and installing new technology to enable Consumers Energy to more quickly and effectively isolate and restore outages. These upgrades will benefit approximately 130,000 electric customers across the state.

The HVD system connects the electric transmission system to Consumers Energy’s low voltage distribution (LVD) system. The HVD system carries electricity at either 46,000 volts or 138,000 volts. Consumers Energy’s network of distribution substations and smaller transformers then step the voltage down progressively for safe delivery to homes and businesses.

This year’s HVD upgrades are part of Consumers Energy’s larger efforts to build a more reliable and resilient energy grid through its five-year, $5.4 billion Electric Reliability Plan. That plan is a blueprint for serving Michigan today and innovating to meet the challenges of the coming decades. Investments such as trimming trees, replacing poles and wires and upgrading substations and key equipment are top priorities, especially with climate change causing more frequent and severe weather events.

Consumers Energy has increased investment in forestry by more than 60 percent since 2018 as trees are the number one cause for power outages, and the plan includes a significant increase in spending — more than $500 million over five years — to keep distribution lines clear.  Through our reliability plan, we plan to reduce the average length of time that customers are without power by nearly 15% from 2020 to 2025.