Tom Hess has worked with many companies during his 28-year career as an environmental inspector.

In many cases, Hess has experienced clients who tolerate his environmental recommendations, or do only what’s required — often with pressure.

Thus, Hess wasn’t sure what to expect when he proposed spending extra money to restore construction areas on a major natural gas pipeline project for Michigan-based Consumers Energy. He suggested using seed mix containing native grasses and wildflowers to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators losing habitat across the country.

Hess was pleasantly surprised when project managers for the Saginaw Trail Pipeline enthusiastically approved the request.

“I don’t know of another company that would have approved that, and it speaks volumes,” said Hess, a Minneapolis-based contractor who works daily on the pipeline right-of-way. “Consumers Energy is a company that thinks globally and is taking efforts to make a difference in its corner of the world.”

The special seed mix is just one example of how the company is exceeding environmental requirements on the Saginaw Trail Pipeline, a four-phase effort to replace 78 miles of aging natural gas transmission pipeline in Saginaw, Genesee and Oakland counties.

In all, about 93 acres of wild and wetland areas where new pipeline was buried started to bloom as new habitat for butterflies, bees and other pollinators.

“This is a great opportunity to have a positive impact on the whole ecosystem and leave it better than we found it,” said Lindsey Johnson, the project’s environmental engineer.

The restoration work is part of Consumers Energy’s five-year goal to enhance, restore or protect 5,000 acres of land in Michigan.

The company’s commitment to environmental sustainability doesn’t stop there. The energy provider just released its Clean Energy Plan to stop using coal to generate electricity and increase its renewable energy to over 40 percent by 2040.

Learn more about Consumers Energy’s commitment to sustainability by visiting

Learn more about the Saginaw Trail Pipeline project at