With our facilities, pipelines and wires covering thousands of acres across the Lower Peninsula, we understand our responsibility to care for our lands, which often includes taking care of the animals who live there.

For the last few years, when it comes to the environment our leading story has been our Clean Energy Plan, which focuses heavily on increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency to meet Michigan’s energy needs and continue the journey to net zero carbon emissions by 2040. It also includes ending coal use by 2025 – 15 years faster than originally planned.

While we are using this plan to lead Michigan’s Clean Energy Transformation, there are other important goals that are helping us provide energy across the state while also protecting the natural resources that make Michigan such a unique place. One of those goals involves a commitment to enhance, restore and protect 6,500 acres of Michigan land from 2022 through the end of 2026. Two years into that goal, we have achieved more than 2,400 acres bringing us to 38 percent of goal.

Pollinators

In 2016, as part of the Saginaw Trail Pipeline project, employee Lindsey Johnson implemented a new restoration technique by planting a seed mix containing native grasses and wildflowers to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Thanks to Johnson, hundreds of acres of wild and wetland areas where new pipeline was buried are blooming as new habitat for pollinators. The technique has since been used in other projects including Mid-Michigan Pipeline and Muskegon Solar.

We are also doing our part to support monarch preservation efforts. We enrolled 259,506 acres in the Monarch Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) – a program that relies on land surveys and adaptive land management strategies to help restore monarch habitats and grow the population. The Eastern monarch population has declined from about 384 million 25 years ago to an estimated 60 million in 2019.

But when it comes to taking care of the wildlife on our land, it’s more than just pollinators.

Protecting Endangered Bats

Tippy Dam, located on the Manistee River, is more than just a source of hydroelectric energy. It is also

Bats congregate in the spillway at Tippy Hydro.

where landmark research continues on White Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease affecting American bats. About 27,000 bats live in the dam including some threatened and endangered species. Dr. Allen Kurta, Eastern Michigan University biology professor and bat expert, and his team have been conducting a study to determine why bats at Tippy Dam have been resistant to the infectious, deadly disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS). Learn more here.

And we aren’t just protective of the bats we know are hanging around our facilities. We also take precautions to confirm the presence of bats on or around project sites, before work begins.  A couple years ago, on an Allegan County pipeline project, environmental analyst Emily Macqueen spotted what she thought could be a bat colony. To begin the urgent project they needed to clear some trees, but they couldn’t do that before confirming if there were bats in the area. Macqueen gathered a team to conduct a bat survey before safely proceeding with the project. Learn about the outcome here.

Trees

Vegetation management is an important practice to ensure reliable and safe energy delivery. Our expert Tree Management Team follows established forestry guidelines to ensure trees don’t interrupt your service. We use qualified line-clearance contractors to safely clear trees and vegetation that could interfere with our power lines. We know that trees are often responsible for outages, in fact fallen trees and broken limbs are the cause of a power outage about 33% of the time. Which is why we recently announced, as part of our Reliability Roadmap, our plan to significantly increase our tree trimming efforts to prevent and shorten power outages and improve system reliability.

While we understand the importance of tree trimming, we also know planting trees is an important part of our efforts to protect, preserve and restore land in Michigan. Each year, local governments overseeing qualified projects in our electric service territory can receive up to $200 per tree to purchase up to 15 trees through our Consumers Energy Street and Boulevard Tree Planting Grant program.

And while we’re on the subject of trees, if you’re planning to do any tree planting, make sure to do it safely. Contact Miss DIG three days before your project to ensure all underground lines are properly marked, and keep these tips in mind as you begin planting.

For more information on all things trees, visit our blog:

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Trees, Debris and More

To read more about the creatures we have protected, rehabbed and rehomed, check out these blogs:

Natural Gas Pipeline Employees Save Red Foxes from Disease, Probable Death

Cowabunga! Fifty-Six Rescued Turtles Released into Native Habitat

Consumers Energy teams up to protect an elusive Michigan rattlesnake

Wild Goose Chase: More than 200 Geese Banded for Migration Tracking