A lot of companies like to talk about their sustainability goals. Few are as aggressive at charting a course as Consumers Energy.
Michigan-based Consumers Energy is pioneering sustainability initiatives on behalf of both its natural gas and electric business. The company’s nation-leading plans call for zero-methane emissions from its natural gas delivery system by 2030 and to achieve net zero carbon emissions, end coal use and dramatically increase clean energy resources by 2040 in its electric business.
Consumers Energy is doing all this through comprehensive action plans that support the electric vehicle movement, electrification, energy conservation, renewable natural gas and wide-scale adoption of solar and wind power.
Just as Consumers Energy is transforming its business to become more sustainable for future generations, Michigan’s largest utility is supporting businesses to do the same.
Energy experts work with companies to understand their goals, operations and long-term plans to create integrated solutions that balance operational efficiencies with clean, renewable energy. Meanwhile, the diverse portfolio of customer programs can improve business’ operations by reducing energy waste, optimizing energy rates and meeting sustainability goals through a variety of renewable energy options. This no-holds-barred approach to sustainability is touching almost every corner of Michigan, from international Fortune 500 companies to local hometown breweries.
Powering the Automotive Sustainability Journey
The longstanding partnership between Consumers Energy and General Motors showcases what is possible when two industry leaders work together to take a stand for our planet. For over 20 years the two organizations have been tackling energy waste at facilities and have optimized the electric grid by supporting Demand Response programs. Now the two are working together to help suppliers of America’s largest auto manufacturer do the same.
Through GM’s Supplier Energy Symposium, suppliers and partner organizations like Consumers Energy have strengthened relationships, deepened collaboration efforts and increased energy efficiency projects across GM’s value chain. Each organization is sharing insight into energy management strategies and best practices to support others in their sustainability journeys.
Moving beyond efficiency, Consumers Energy and GM are partnering to accelerate the development of renewable energy resources in Michigan and advance electric vehicle (EV) technology, policy and customer programs across the nation. In September 2020, Consumers Energy announced joining a first-of-its-kind pledge to make interstate travel easier for EV owners by 2022.
A coalition of energy providers including Consumers Energy will facilitate construction of a vast network of fast charging stations across the Midwest from Michigan to the Colorado border, making it possible for EV owners to drive longer distances without worrying about their next charge. This initiative dovetails with GM’s all-electric future and its commitment to 30 new global electric vehicles by 2025. All roads lead to thinking differently and bringing creative solutions to make a meaningful impact toward building a zero-emissions future.
Brewing Up Energy Star Success
From global to local, customized collaboration remains the same. Perhaps nowhere is it more evident than in the Michigan town of Comstock, where Bell’s Brewery is setting a new standard in energy efficiency.
Bell’s utilizes an Energy Concierge Service offered by Consumers Energy, where a dedicated energy engineer supports their sustainability goals by identifying energy efficiency projects, building business cases and leading projects from start to finish. Through a series of energy efficiency improvements enacted over the past two years, Bell’s received the U.S. EPA Energy Star Challenge award for the company’s sustainability efforts.
Since 2019, the largest independent craft brewery in Michigan has reduced its energy per barrel packaged by 10.35%. Bell’s shipped almost 500,000 barrels of beer in 2019. The Energy Star Challenge for Industry is a worldwide call to action for industrial end-users to reduce their energy intensity by 10% within
five years. Over the last few years, the two companies have also partnered to help Bell’s significantly save energy costs.
“Being good stewards of our environment has always been a priority,” said Larry Bell, president and founder of Bell’s. “Sure, we save money. That’s good business. More importantly, we’re helping to secure and protect our environment for generations to come.”
The brewery partnered with Consumers Energy to make these upgrades at the main brewery operation in West Michigan. “We love working with customers like Bell’s who share our vision that reducing their carbon footprint and using energy more efficiently are important aspects of a cleaner energy future,” said Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president of customer experience. “Our energy efficiency programs have helped customers save over $3 billion on their bills in the last decade.”
Building Sustainable Michigan Communities
Part of making Michigan more sustainable involves the continued focus of Consumers Energy and others to make its communities a go-to destination. On that scorecard, Consumers Energy partners with Traverse Connect to make sure Michigan remains a preferred destination for remote workers and employers who want to diversify the location of their operations.
“We are already on the map from a quality-of-life standpoint, but we want to make sure people understand they can live here and work here year-round,” says Warren Call, president and CEO of Traverse Connect in Traverse City, Michigan. “We are on the top 10 lists for Best Small Towns in America and Best Places to Visit. But we want folks to know we are way more than a beach town. We have cultural amenities like an opera house, and we are building out our talent recruitment efforts to get the word out.”
Hence, the creation and launch of Michigan’s Creative Coast and corresponding website, www.michiganscreativecoast.com. “Our community partners worked with us to build a comprehensive site that incorporates every aspect of our entrepreneurial ecosystem and highlights the many fantastic careers and industries available right here on the shores of Traverse Bay,” says Call. “People have moved here from the West Coast. We had over 1,000 views of our job board in just February alone. We partnered with Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Consumers Energy to create this, and it is already paying huge dividends for our region.”
Call adds, “Talent today wants the complete package. They want to know there is a cultural depth to a place. That is a big part of our place-making. And this year, we are going even deeper into entrepreneurial attraction. Our message to them is simple: You can do your work from anywhere and hire from anywhere. Why not do it here?”
From a chilled craft beer to endless adventures, the fresh coast of the Great Lakes State is filled with pure Michigan opportunities.
This Investment Profile was prepared under the auspices of Consumers Energy. For more information, contact Valerie Christofferson at 616-648-2777 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On the web, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/econdev.
Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.