JACKSON, Mich., Aug. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy is accelerating its plan to provide updated electric meters to homes and businesses across Michigan. By the end of 2017 -- two years earlier than scheduled originally -- 1.8 million electric meters will be updated along with 600,000 natural gas meters for customers who also have Consumers Energy electric service.
"Our high customer satisfaction and growing customer interest in the benefits of the new meters are moving us to speed up our original schedule. We started updating meters in West Michigan and we will be in multiple regions simultaneously around the state by mid-year 2015," said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy's vice president of customer operations and quality. "We are seeing excellent performance from meters we have already installed, enabling us to bring enhanced service to more customers sooner."
More than 275,000 West Michigan residents and small business owners have received upgraded meters since summer 2012. Their daily energy use information is sent through the cellular telephone network to Consumers Energy, enhancing billing accuracy and virtually eliminating the need for physical meter reads.
Electric use information is available to customers with the new meters who go online with their own passwords at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/smartenergy. They can track their energy use, manage their energy efficiency, and predict their monthly bills.
"Our business customers will also gain access to online energy use data that can help them better manage their energy consumption," said Rochow. "Advanced meter technology will enable us to broaden future program opportunities for business customers who can benefit from time-of-use pricing, as well as help them tailor their electrical equipment needs around money-saving programs."
Consumers Energy in 2016 will launch its enhanced outage management system, using immediate outage notifications from the new meters to more effectively start repairs during storms. Customers will also be able to choose their own billing dates in the future and take advantage of other energy-saving programs.
"It's an important initiative with tremendous benefits," Rochow said. "We're using technology to provide energy that works smarter for our customers."
Electric meters have been upgraded so far in areas of Oceana, Muskegon, Ottawa, Allegan and Kent counties, with southern Newaygo County installations coming this fall. The natural gas meters of customers who also receive Consumers Energy electric service will receive communication modules on their meters beginning in the fall of 2015, which will work with their electric meters to facilitate remote meter reads for gas service.
Consumers Energy will begin upgrading electric meters by mid-summer 2015 in the Kalamazoo, Genesee, Boyne City and Grand Traverse regions. Battle Creek, Big Rapids, Jackson and Saginaw regions are scheduled for meter upgrades in 2016, while the Lansing and Midland areas will get meter upgrades in 2017.
Notifications of meter upgrades will arrive in the form of large blue information postcards at homes about 30 days before the switch. Customers don't need to be home for the replacement, which takes only a few minutes, but can call to make appointments if they choose.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
Media toolkit LEARN MORE: Find out more about smart energy at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/smartenergy or by calling 1-888-862-2199.
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" as defined in Rule 3b-6 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Rule 175 of the Securities Act of 1933, and relevant legal decisions. The forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties. All forward-looking statements should be considered in the context of the risk and other factors detailed from time to time in CMS Energy's and Consumers Energy's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Forward-looking statements should be read in conjunction with "FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS AND INFORMATION" and "RISK FACTORS" sections of CMS Energy's Form 10-K and Consumers Energy's Form 10-K each for the year ended December 31, 2013 and as updated in CMS Energy's and Consumers Energy's subsequent Forms 10-Q.
CMS Energy's and Consumers Energy's "FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS AND INFORMATION" and "RISK FACTORS" sections are incorporated herein by reference and discuss important factors that could cause CMS Energy's and Consumers Energy's results to differ materially from those anticipated in such statements.
SOURCE Consumers Energy