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Daniel Malone

Consumers Energy leads energy optimization in Michigan businesses and homes

Dan Malone talks with Kirk Heinze

By Mackenzie Mohr

Daniel Malone is senior vice president of distribution and customer operations for Consumers Energy with a wide range of responsibilities.

Consumers recently announced plans for a 700-megawatt natural gas power plant in Genesee County, Malone says, as the company steadily eliminates fossil fuel processes in compliance with the EPA Clean Air Act.

“With natural gas prices, it will also be one of the most effective and efficient plants that we can bring,” he says, “to our customers.”

The fracking phenomenon is going to keep natural gas prices down, he says, especially in northern Michigan. “Next to energy efficiency,” Malone says, “it’s actually the cheapest energy source we can bring.”

The key to fracking is responsibly disposing the waste water used in the process, he says. “Michigan has done an outstanding job of that.”

The Renewable Portfolio Standard requires 10 percent of the state's energy portfolio be renewable by 2015, Malone says. In 2008, Consumers Energy was producing 4 percent renewable energy, he says, but opened its first wind farm in Mason County.

Another wind farm in Tuscaloosa County is planned to open in 2015, Malone says, which will put the renewable energy portfolio over 10 percent. Gov. Snyder plans to research and evaluate the progress of Michigan’s renewable energy, he says, which reaffirms his commitment to the law.

Nuclear energy is more complicated politically and publicly, Malone says, and Consumers Energy purchases power produced by the Palisades Power Plant, delivering energy to customers. Gov. Snyder also addressed reliability issues with the energy transmission feed on which the upper peninsula relies.

“Michigan is a peninsula, and we don’t have as many feeds coming in as some of the other states,” he says, “but the transmission system is robust.” Consumers Energy has increased reliable and effective distribution by 24 percent in the last five years, Malone says, and plan to invest $6.4 billion in Michigan over the next five years.

Consumers Energy is also involved in the Pure Michigan Business Connect, he says, a program dedicated to contracting high-quality Michigan companies. “What we’re doing right now is focusing on getting that business back to Michigan,” Malone says.

At this time, he says, Consumers is on track to far exceed its pledge of $500 million in contracts. “For every $250,000 invested into a Michigan company that brings another job,” he says. “Think about the number of jobs that will be able to create.”

Consumers Energy is a proponent of energy optimization, Malone says, which takes efficiency and conservation into account. Optimization requires a conscious effort to decrease the use of electricity, he says, gas and water in addition to choosing products that use less energy.

Many small appliances draw phantom power, wasting electricity, Malone says. “When they’re off, they're not actually off,” he says. “Unplug them.” Virtually all appliances use phantom power regardless of size, Malone says, so make the effort to unplug.

Use of efficient lighting has exploded, he says, as Consumers has provided rebates on 3.5 million compact fluorescent lightbulbs. “If you look at a light bulb over a year’s period of time,” Malone says, “you’ll save about $10 per year just changing that one light bulb out, and the light bulbs last a lot longer.”

The next wave of technology is LED lighting, he says, which is effective, bright, clean, crisp, and provides home savings. Visit Consumers Energy online, Malone says, to learn more about energy efficiency programs, instant rebates, home energy assessments, and more.

“How can you be more efficient?”

Greening of the Great Lakes airs every Sunday at 7 p.m. on News/Talk 760 WJR and around the state each weekend on the Michigan Talk Network.  Please follow us on Twitter.


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