Just below our feet runs a complex network of pipelines that make up our natural gas infrastructure. These natural gas pipes deliver clean, affordable energy to Michigan homes and businesses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, like the rest of our energy infrastructure, these pipelines are aging and in serious need of upgrades in order to ensure they remain functioning properly and safely.
That’s why both local energy providers—DTE Energy and Consumers Energy—are in the midst of ambitious, multi-year-long projects to upgrade our natural gas infrastructure in order to ensure these pipelines can continue doing their jobs well into the future.
DTE Energy began this massive undertaking in 2011, “replacing half-century old cast iron/bare steel pipes and steel/copper service lines” with newer, more durable plastic pipes statewide. The effort—expected to take a total of 18 years—is called the Gas Renewal Program and represents a $3.5 billion investment in our natural gas infrastructure.
This year alone, DTE Energy is expected to replace more than 178 miles of pipelines in southeast and western Michigan, allowing for “an increase in gas pressure to meet the growing demand” for clean, safe, and reliable energy. At the same time, these upgrades are helping boost employment in Michigan—adding nearly 90 skilled trade employees from 2018-2019.
Consumers Energy is in the middle of a similar effort to improve the safety and reliability of their natural gas pipelines. The local energy provider is “investing nearly $2 billion to replace 2,600 miles of natural gas pipelines as part of their Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Program.
Additionally, Consumers Energy is using underground directional drilling in 90 percent of their pipe replacements. This approach helps minimize disruption to consumers’ property. Altogether, Consumers Energy has more than 60 natural gas infrastructure improvement projects across 17 Michigan counties.
Taken together, these infrastructure improvement projects are helping ensure Michigan is well equipped to continue delivering cleaner, more reliable energy derived from natural gas for generations to come. It’s all part of the commitment local energy providers make to our state—underscoring the importance of local energy investment.