How a river race helps build a cleaner Michigan


Building a cleaner state is like rowing a boat with a team of partners. If everyone on the team isn’t working in unison, it’s going to take a lot longer to complete the race.

It is therefore normal that Consumers Energy —
Michigan’s largest energy supplier — sponsors an annual rowing competition that symbolizes its long-term strategy: Everyone comes together to build a cleaner state.

Held annually on the last full weekend of July, the Consumers Energy Au Sable River Canoe Marathon is a 120-mile race that runs from Grayling to Oscoda. An international competition, the race showcases the natural beauty and recreational opportunities of Pure Michigan in the northern Lower Peninsula. Competing teams carry six of the company’s hydroelectric facilities along the river.

The 74th marathon race concluded recently and underscored the importance of improving Michigan’s sustainability. A vertical banner at the start of the race encourages people to join Consumers Energy to “become a force for change”.

These are not just big company words. It has been codified in practice and certified by the Michigan Public Service Commission. The crucial regulatory decision came on June 23 when the MPSC approved Consumers Energy’s agreement with a diverse group of stakeholders on updates to its clean energy plan. The plan is a 20-year plan to meet Michigan’s energy needs while protecting the environment for future generations.

The plan’s five pillars include phasing out all coal-fired power plants by 2025; ensure the reliability of the entire system by purchasing a natural gas plant and purchasing an additional 700 megawatts of electrical capacity from various sources; add nearly 8,000 MW of solar power and reach 550 MW of battery storage by 2040; and create price stability to save customers around $600 million through 2040.

One State, many partners

Michigan has a culture of innovation and a lifestyle unlike any other – with a low cost of living, high quality of life, and strong partnerships fused together to deliver the full Michigan experience whether it’s either at work, at home or in leisure.

But don’t take our word for it. Hear what local partners have to say about their amazing areas of the state and current site preparation efforts.

Randy Thelen, president and CEO of The Right Place, the economic development organization that serves Greater Grand Rapids, said that “over the past six months we have established a site. Consumers Energy has been a fantastic partner for us. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. put some seed capital in there. We looked at sites 50+ acres and also which sites have access to talent. There is a long history of excellence in West Michigan.

Thelen notes that ultimately, The Right Place wants to have five sites vetted, planned, and ready for development in Greater Grand Rapids. “We have just gone through a wave of industrial growth,” he adds. “And our site preparation partners are helping us prepare for another. There is a pulsating energy from western Michigan that is felt throughout the Midwest. Our business and community leaders have set in motion an unprecedented level of growth and investment, cementing our place as a world-class center for advanced manufacturing, life sciences and medical devices, processing food and technology. We look forward to preparing more sites to attract more businesses and talent. »

Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage in Zeeland, agrees. “Working in partnership with Consumers, we will identify large parcels of land and add infrastructure as needed to provide more start-up sites. Most of these sites are 100 acres or more which is ideal for industrial growth.

Owens notes that “the greatest benefit of the Site Readiness Partnership is that we are all focused on the need to get to market faster. Most industrial companies, when they need to grow, need to do so now. Having a site ready to go cuts the project timeline from six to 12 months. »

Lakeshore Advantage’s work was instrumental in securing LG Energy Solutions’ commitment to invest $1.7 billion in lithium-ion battery production in Holland, West Michigan. “They are a great partner. They are an extended member of our team. They are on call ready to support us.

Consumers Energy Director of Economic Development Valerie Christofferson said, “We are thrilled to be part of #TeamMichigan. The strength of our partners and the fruits of our labor, including our new high rate of economic development and continued momentum around site preparation, amplifies our ongoing efforts to ensure we are rowing in the same direction.

This investment profile has been prepared under the auspices of Consumers Energy. For more information, contact Valerie Christofferson at 616-648-2777 or [email protected]. On the web, go to


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