Consumers Energy is a company based in Jackson, Michigan. Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula counties . The company had been investing in Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) that has allow its customers to take full advantage of the latest smart metering technology. It enabled Consumers Energy Company to realize more operation efficiency and implement demand response programs. Consumers Energy had selected Elster's EnergyAxis residential and commercial smart meters as part of its Smart Grid pilot program which started in 2010 .
In 2010, this pilot program employed WiMax 4G communications and GE smart meters had worked to allow Consumers Energy’s Michigan customers to get the best out of their energy delivery infrastructure. This was the first-ever U.S. smart grid pilot program using this technology. The pilot had an aim to demonstrate how real-time, wireless communications between meters in the home and the utility’s network management and control systems can improve efficiency and reliability for all . GE said, its advanced metering infrastructure, when coupled with back-office distribution management systems, can give network managers and utility information systems an accurate picture of grid operating status at all times. For instance, meter information can help determine the scope and location of an outage, enable distribution automation systems to reroute power and dispatch repair crews .
Afterwards, in 2011, Consumers Energy selected Jackson, Miss.-based SmartSynch to provide the advanced metering system to form the foundation of a grid and meter modernization program for its 1.8 million electric customers in Michigan . After this pilot project which started in 2008 to install and test a limited number of smart electric meters and gas meter communications modules, AMI was expected to move toward full deployment over the next five years .
In addition to the pilot program, Consumers Energy also built Smart Services Learning Center (SSLC) in 2008 which is located at the utility's Jackson Service Center. This center includes a 2,500 square-foot facility that tests and demonstrates Smart Grid technology effects on service quality and customer satisfaction. The SSLC features a home setting, a smart energy station, electric dispatch and call center, and test lab. In 2014, Consumers Energy plan to add a 1.3-kilowatt wind turbine and four solar panels to the facility .
Currently, under Consumers Energy's Smart Energy Program, the meter technology is being upgraded to smart meters. Installations for residential customers began in late 2012 and commercial and industrial customer smart meter upgrades had been scheduled to begin during the fall of 2014. The meter technology upgrade for 1.8 million electric customers and 600,000 natural gas service customers within their electric service territory is expected to continue through 2017 .