The 24-mile Southwest Michigan Pipeline by Consumers Energy transports natural gas across 24 miles through St. Joseph and Branch counties. Courtesy Consumers Energy
A utility has completed a $120-million natural gas pipeline in the region that it began in late 2013.
Consumers Energy celebrated its 24-mile Southwest Michigan Pipeline project, which began commercial operation on Sept. 18, with landowners, contractors and employees on Wednesday.
The utility said this week that the pipeline runs through St. Joseph and Branch counties and completes a 90-mile dual gas transmission pipeline corridor, which increases reliability and safety for its 1.7 million natural gas customers.
During the summer, the new section of pipe will carry natural gas to the company’s vast underground storage fields, and in the winter, the line will distribute natural gas to serve customers.
The completed pipeline project allows for the transportation of larger volumes of natural gas. It also allows the utility to keep the gas flowing during routine inspections on either of the parallel pipelines.
The project created about 300 jobs and generated approximately $25 million in direct and indirect wages over the course of construction, which was completed on schedule.
"It is important to pause and reflect on the magnitude of effort involved in taking a large project like this Southwest Michigan Pipeline from concept to completion, and more importantly, to recognize and thank the individuals who made it happen," said Dan Malone, SVP of distribution and customer operations, Consumers Energy.
About 80 landowners were impacted by construction of the new pipeline section, which is largely on rural and agricultural land.
Malone called the support from landowners “crucial” to the project.
The project is part of Consumers Energy’s larger investment to serve customers by improving its natural gas infrastructure.
The company recently completed a $175-million upgrade at its Ray Compressor Station, near Armada in Macomb County, and plans to invest almost $500 million between 2012 and 2016 to inspect, assess and replace pipeline.
Consumers Energy is Michigan's largest utility.
It provides natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.