JACKSON, Mich., May 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy customers are saving energy and money as a result of a wide range of energy optimization programs launched last year.
The utility estimates that energy efficiency measures installed during the first six months of the programs will save more than 145,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually of electricity and more than 397 million cubic feet annually of natural gas. That's enough electricity to serve almost 18,000 residential customers, and enough natural gas to serve nearly 3,700 residential customers.
Over the lifetime of these energy efficiency measures an estimated 1.4 million megawatt-hours of electricity and 7 billion cubic feet of natural gas will be saved.
Consumers Energy launched the programs to meet the requirements of Michigan's 2008 energy reform law. The law requires Consumers Energy and other utilities to work with customers to reduce electric use by 5.5 percent and natural gas use by 3.85 percent by 2015.
Due to significant levels of customer participation, Consumers Energy substantially exceeded the first-year savings required by the energy reform law. Consumers Energy's electric target for 2009 was 107,939 MWh of savings. Through its electric programs customers saved 145,118 MWh, or 134 percent of the target. The utility's natural gas target for 2009 was 300 million cubic feet of savings. Through its gas programs customers saved 397 million cubic feet, or 132 percent of the target.
"We are pleased and excited that Consumers Energy customers have responded with such enthusiasm and interest to our energy efficiency programs. Customers are saving money because of these programs," said John Russell, president and chief operating officer of Consumers Energy. "We are increasing our investments in these successful programs, which will continue for at least the next five years."
In 2009, more than 170,000 residential customers and more than 9,500 business customers participated in at least one of the energy efficiency programs. More than 7,000 highly efficient gas furnaces were installed, replacing less efficient furnaces. About 800,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) were installed. Several major Michigan retailers supported the energy efficiency effort by offering CFLs discounted up to half the normal purchase price, made possible by funding from Consumers Energy.
During the first six months of the program about 2,600 older, inefficient "second" refrigerators and freezers were picked up from customer homes. About 98 percent of parts from these units were recycled at a facility in Livonia. Meanwhile, a new appliance receiving facility will open later this month in Grand Rapids to support statewide expansion of this program.
Implementation contractors have added at least 120 employees because of these energy efficiency programs. Separately, Consumers Energy works with 1,700 trade allies and 30 Community Action Agencies which have created jobs because of these programs.
"It pays – in more ways than one -- to become more energy efficient," said Orjiakor Isiogu, chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission. "Savings come not only from appliance rebates but from reduced energy usage. I encourage Consumers Energy electric and natural gas customers to explore the many options they have as part of the company's energy optimization program."
Consumers Energy's energy optimization programs include incentives for the purchase of highly efficient equipment and appliances; business energy audits; and an information campaign to help customers understand and choose the benefits of energy efficiency. Incentives are provided for customer purchases of highly efficient heating and cooling systems, water heaters, appliances, lighting and other energy efficiency measures.
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
For more information about Consumers Energy, visit our Website at www.consumersenergy.com
SOURCE Consumers Energy