Michigan's largest utility company, Consumers Energy, said on Monday that it would spend nearly $440 million this year to continue modernizing its natural gas system with projects to replace aging pipeline and meet growing demand in the state.
Consumers has earmarked $120 million "to keep up with growth" in 2017, including expansions to serve 8,000 new businesses and to construct 190 miles of distribution main to serve customers in areas without natural gas service.
The company said it would add 2,500 new residential customers with the expansion. In the Caledonia and Lowell areas, the company also plans to upgrade its systems to increase gas supply.
A larger sum of $183 million would go toward pipeline integrity projects, such as starting the first phase of the Saginaw Trail Pipeline -- a $610 million project to replace 78 miles of vintage transmission line over a five-year period to increase natural gas transmission into Saginaw, Genesee and Oakland counties. The company also plans to inspect and repair 600 miles of its transmission and distribution system.
Another $75 million would be spent to finish 40 improvement projects and replace 67 miles of pipe with plastic and steel. The company is also working with state, county and municipal governments to relocate or replace natural gas infrastructure, including replacing about 8,500 service lines leading to homes and businesses that will cost it about $60 million.
Consumers, the principal subsidiary of publicly-traded CMS Energy, serves 6.7 million natural gas and electric customers in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties. Its distribution and transmission system spans more than 28,000 miles and delivers 356 Bcf of natural gas each year to 4.1 million Michiganders.
This year's investments come after the company announced plans to spend nearly $225 million last year for natural gas system upgrades.