It’s a question our customers have been asking for a long time, “Why don’t you just bury the lines?” We’ve got good news! After receiving approval by the Michigan Public Service Commission, we are moving forward with a targeted undergrounding pilot program. A $3.7 million investment will enable us to bury 10 miles of overhead power lines in the next year.

The pilot program will kick-start our long-term plans to move more power lines underground, bolstering our efforts to improve electric service for nearly 2 million Michigan homes and businesses. Buried power lines are better protected from common outage causes, including lightning, high winds, tornadoes, heavy snow, ice and falling tree limbs.

“We can’t control mother nature, but we can control how we prepare for more extreme weather,” said Chris Laird, vice president of electric operations. “Burying power lines is just one tool we can use in our growing toolbox to prevent outages from impacting our customers. We are committed to delivering more reliable energy for all customers.”

“Burying power lines will help make the grid stronger and more reliable,” said Greg Salisbury, vice president of electric distribution engineering. “This pilot will help us learn even more about cost-effective ways to bury lines, allowing us to expand undergrounding projects in the future.”

The pilot program will target circuits in Genesee, Livingston, Allegan, Ottawa, Montcalm, and Iosco counties that have frequent, lengthy outages and are in areas with dense trees, which are often responsible for the outages.

Underground lines currently make up about 15 percent of all Consumers Energy electric lines, most being in subdivisions and areas with high population density.  In the future, the energy provider aims to bury over 1,000 miles of line in the next 5 years, subject to regulatory approval.

“It is important to note that burying lines might be the best solution for some areas but not others. Using a strategic approach and a variety of methods to strengthen the grid, we aim to ensure that all the communities we serve can count on us to deliver reliable electricity,” Salisbury said.

The Reliability Roadmap, our plan for a smarter and stronger electric grid, includes investments in smart technology and automation, forestry work, and infrastructure upgrades. It is a blueprint for serving Michigan today while investing and innovating to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Learn more about our Reliability Roadmap:

Consumers Energy Announces Reliability Roadmap to Achieve Fewer, Shorter Power Outages