The Earth crunches as their shovels glisten in the sunlight, and workers attentively move dirt to make way for pleasant additions to the landscape.
Saplings and small crab apple trees are planted by Rogers Nursery in Au Gres. They will one day tower 25-feet high over the Tawas City community, every tree a reminder of the commitment Consumers Energy makes each year to replenishing the environment.
“It’s important for Consumers Energy to work with communities to replant trees because it’s a re-investment in the community,” said Rich Castle, area manager in the Northern Michigan region for Consumers Energy. “It’s necessary for us to cut trees to maintain our lines, but we can also provide tree (grants) to plant trees (that do not have an) impact on our system.”
Fallen trees or broken limbs are the leading cause of outages in Michigan. That’s why Consumers Energy is investing more than $500 million over the next five years to make sure our customers have reliable service by keeping our distribution lines clear.
When planted, trees provide a wide range of benefits to the community. They help manage stormwater runoff, cool the air, reduce the effects of car pollution, and improve air quality.
The trees planted in Tawas City are part of a campaign that’s been around since 2009: the Consumers Energy Street and Boulevard Tree Planting Grant program.
Local governments overseeing qualified projects in areas with Consumers Energy electric service can receive up to $200 per tree to purchase up to 15 trees. This year, 33 communities in our electric service territory are expected to receive a combined $89,200 and plant 446 trees.
Annge Horning, city manager for Tawas City, said the city has cashed in $26,600 worth of grants over the last 11 years, including most recently installed trees planted the second week of October. Over time, this has allowed the community to plant a total of 265 trees.
“I encourage everyone to apply for the grants,” said Horning. “We will continue to apply for them until we run out of places to put trees and I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Over at East Tawas they plan on planting eight trees – including three White Oaks in front of residents’ homes where trees had to be removed and five other trees in the downtown area.
East Tawas received $1,600 this year and said they have used the tree planting grants in years past.
“We are definitely thankful for them,” said Stephanie Loew, deputy clerk for City of East Tawas. “We budget for tree replacement and removal each year, and this grant goes toward those efforts. We plan to use this program in the future and are thankful for the opportunity to do so.”
The City of Rockford has also received the grant from Consumers Energy multiple times. In 2022 they received a $3,000 grant and planted 15 trees this October in areas around their community, including in their downtown, in front of businesses, and in neighborhoods around the city.
“We are Tree USA and this grant allows us to continue planting trees around the city. We recognize how Consumers Energy’s grant can help communities like ours enjoy trees for years to come,” said Phil Vincent, department of public services supervisor for the city of Rockford.
“I’d encourage every town to apply for this grant. Not only does it help the environment and keep our towns green, it also helps educate communities about the Right Tree, Right Place principle. We want reliable energy and for our trees to grow for generations, and this grant helps us do both.”
For more information about the Community Street & Boulevard Tree Planting Grant Program contact our partner Michigan Forestry & Parks Association
For other ways how Consumers Energy invests in the communities we serve, visit https://www.consumersenergy.com/community/foundation