JACKSON (WWJ) — Consumers Energy says it has boosted its commitment to the Pure Michigan Business Connect hire-Michigan program by hiring two local contractors to help keep landowner relations strong for its 24-mile Southwest Michigan 1200B Pipeline Project.

“We greatly value the relationships we’ve built with the people who own the land where we are building this pipeline,” said Jim Sunday, project manager for Consumers Energy. “We made a very conscious decision to retain the services of local, well-respected contractors to handle issues that will inevitably arise during construction.”

Quincy-based Lukazcek Excavating has been hired to handle issues involving drain tiles and topsoil coordination. Advanced Farm Supply Inc. of Burr Oak will assist with irrigation system repairs.

The contractors will coordinate efforts through Consumers Energy real estate representatives, who have been meeting with landowners in the area about the project since 2012.

“We will be operating and maintaining our pipeline for many decades,” said Sunday. “Consumers Energy wants to convey to the landowners that we desire to be a good neighbor for the long haul.”

The pipeline will cross mostly rural, agricultural land owned by about 80 landowners. Consumers Energy’s approximately $100,000 investment in the two local companies will provide an economic boost to the two contractors it hired and create an additional two to three jobs in the local economy.

The pipeline will run 24 miles through St. Joseph and Branch counties and completes a 90-mile dual gas transmission pipeline corridor. Consumers says the pipeline will boost reliability and safety for Consumers Energy’s 1.7 million natural gas customers.

The pipeline will allow Consumers Energy to take advantage of natural gas prices that are typically lower in non-heating months and carry natural gas to underground storage fields. In winter, the line will distribute natural gas to serve customers. When completed, the pipeline will also allow Consumers Energy to keep gas flowing while crews perform routine safety inspections on either of the parallel pipelines.

“Our company installed a lot of the drain tiles for the farmers in this area,” said Louie Lukazcek, owner of Lukazcek Excavating. “Of course it’s great for my crews to have this work and we’re definitely going to put in the effort to prove this is a win for everybody involved.”

Launched in 2011, Pure Michigan Business Connect is a public-private alliance of the MEDC, state agencies and major Michigan companies. Consumers Energy recently increased to $1 billion its total commitment to purchase Michigan-made goods and services from 2011-2016 — in addition to the $2 billion normally spent annually. The Company has reached $790 million of the goal.

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.


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