Animals Kept Out, Power Kept On With Enhanced Control Measures At Consumers Energy Substations

 Animals Kept Out, Power Kept On With Enhanced Control Measures At Consumers
                              Energy Substations

PR Newswire

JACKSON, Mich., Oct. 9, 2013

JACKSON, Mich., Oct. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Squirrels, raccoons and other
curious animals will have a more difficult time getting into Consumers
Energy's substations and disrupting power because of control measures being
put in place throughout the state.

The utility has been installing animal control equipment for years, but now
has more stringent standards in place to take a more proactive approach to
work at new and existing substations.

"Our Promise to Michigan is to deliver the energy you need, whenever you need
it. These new standards are helping keep the animals out and the lights on,"
said Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy's vice president of energy delivery.

Consumers Energy owns and operates more than 1,200 substations, fenced
facilities where electric voltage is decreased for distribution to homes and
businesses across Michigan's Lower Peninsula. The electrical wires leading to
and from a substation, along with the warmth and vibration given off by the
substation's equipment are often attractive to wildlife, especially squirrels
and raccoons, company statistics show. During 2011 and 2012, 63 percent of the
wildlife-related substation outages were caused by squirrels, 21 percent by
raccoons and 16 percent by birds.

Substations are knocked out of service when an animal enters the substation
and contacts energized equipment while also touching the ground or grounded
electrical equipment. The animal is electrocuted and a resulting electrical
"fault" disrupts power either momentarily or for longer periods, depending on
the situation.

From January 2011 through Sept. 30 of this year, more than 30 percent of all
substation outages were caused by wildlife, one of the largest known causes of
substation outages. When partial or complete substation outages occur,
hundreds or thousands of customers can lose power. A typical substation outage
caused by an animal can last from two to three hours.

The company's standard addresses two main areas: Improving the barriers around
the substation and reducing the opportunity for animals to contact energized
equipment in the substations. Measures include:

  oCreating no more than 1 inch wide openings around the perimeter, such as
    replacing 2 inch wide mesh fencing with 1-inch mesh;
  oPlacing at least 3 inches of gravel covering the bottom of the fence
    perimeter. At substations with a history of problems with burrowing
    animals such as raccoons, up to 2 feet of extra fence is buried below
  o3 feet of clear polycarbonate panels are attached to the fencing to keep
    animals from climbing over and into the substation;
  oPlacing clear polycarbonate discs on electric lines leading into and out
    of the substations to prevent access;
  oAluminum bands wrapped around wooden utility poles near the substation to
    deter animal climbing;
  oCreation of a minimum 10-foot area between perimeter fencing and any trees
  oCaps to cover energized equipment such as conductors and other parts.

The improved animal control measures took effect in late 2012. Because work to
design, engineer and construct substations often span several years, it's too
early to determine the affect the policy changes are making. Ten to 15 new
substations are built each year, with another 10 to 20 upgraded or modified.
The new animal control standards have been applied to several existing
substations during 2013.

"These standards provide consistent and proactive measures to keep animals out
of our substations," Rochow said. "This is all about improving electric

Consumers Energy spends about $150 million a year to upgrade its electric
distribution system, including substation work. These investments and others
over the last five years have resulted in a 20 percent improvement in electric
reliability, Rochow said.

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.

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SOURCE Consumers Energy

Contact: Roger Morgenstern, 616-530-4364 or Terry DeDoes, 517-374-2159
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