Consumer's Energy Company says it pumped out 20 percent more Natural Gas to keep us warm through this long, cold, winter, but also says it only cost 10 percent more because there was so much in storage.
The company started a SWAT program --Severe Weather Assistance Team-- helped 120,000 senior citizens and shut-ins afford their power and gas bills because of the extensive winter..
Vice President, Patty Poppe said Friday that, for the first time, the SWAT program tried reaching out to customers who looked like they might be running into money trouble. She said that appeared to be successful in getting help to those who need it, but she also said not to wait for that call if you're running into a financial difficulty.
VP Garrick Rochow said that the company hired more meter readers because of the deep snow drifts slowing down the process of getting real-time readings. The Smart Meters just now being installed in West Michigan had little effect on that work-load this year because, he said, only 200,000 had been deployed so far. That is a small fraction of the power company's 3.6 million electric and natural gas customers. He expects big labor savings when more Smart Meters are installed.
Rochow explained there is no danger of running short on natural gas any time soon. Michigan sits on porous sandstone, a mile underground, which provides our state with the country's fourth largest "storage field". Rochow said there is a lot of natural gas, under high pressure, pumped into the rock layer.