JACKSON (WWJ) — Consumers Energy has eliminated up-front deposits for power line expansions for businesses.

An estimated 600 Michigan manufacturers, farms, retailers and other businesses each year will see the benefits of the new approach, the utility said.

Consumers officials said the utility has changed how it determines the cost that business customers would pay up front for electric infrastructure needed for them to open or expand:

Traditionally, customers would pay a deposit prior to construction and then receive refunds in future years. Now, Consumers Energy will project the customer’s expected revenue to determine the up-front deposit. Typically, that projected revenue is sufficient to cover the cost, and the customer will need to pay nothing up front.

“Our company supports Michigan’s economic revival by providing safe, reliable and affordable energy,” said Daniel Malone, Consumers Energy senior vice president for distribution and cusotmer operations. “We know we can do even more by taking an approach that helps existing businesses to expand and new businesses to open their doors. Consumers Energy is committed to business growth in Michigan.”

The new policy took effect Aug. 1, and mirrors another change Consumers Energy adopted earlier this year for larger-sized electric business customers. New and expanding businesses will typically not pay up front for electric infrastructure — such as power lines or a substation — that supports the delivery of an additional one megawatt or more of electricity.

One company that was helped by the new approach for larger business customers is Norplas Industries Inc. Norplas is building a 290,000-square-foot manufacturing facility near Lansing, in Delta Township, that will create 300 new jobs early next year.

Consumers Energy is taking this new approach with business customers at the suggestion of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Consumers Energy already partners with the MEDC in the Pure Michigan Business Connect, pledging to support the state’s economy by increasing its spending with Michigan companies by $1 billion through 2016.

“We are a Michigan-based company that is committed to our state,” Malone said. “Our goals with Pure Michigan Business Connect and with these new economic development policies are the same — supporting Michigan businesses, promoting Michigan’s economy and creating Michigan jobs in any way we can.”

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

More at http://www.consumersenergy.com.


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