Utility partners with food banks


Ken Estelle, left, CEO of Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, and Consumers Energy volunteers distribute energy-efficient light bulbs to the needy. Courtesy Consumers Energy

A utility has teamed up with two food banks this holiday season to help people reduce their energy costs.

Thousands of lights

Jackson-based Consumers Energy said this month that it has provided 71,000 energy-efficient light bulbs to more than 20,000 families through the Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank in Comstock Park and the Food Bank of South Central Michigan in Battle Creek.

Employees from Consumers Energy volunteered to help the Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank package grocery items that were distributed to local agencies, along with 66,000 CFL bulbs for families of the Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank and another 5,000 bulbs for families of the Food Bank of South Central Michigan.

Families received a package of two CFLs and information on energy assistance and energy-saving tips.

Garrick Rochow, Consumers Energy VP and chief customer officer, said Consumers wants to help families “put their money toward warming their homes and presents for loved ones.”

The CFL bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, saving $40 or more in electricity costs over the course of each bulb's lifetime, according to Consumers.

Consumers Energy has a history of supporting local food banks.

The company matches employee contributions to Michigan food banks and pantries dollar for dollar.

The utility, employees, retirees and its charitable foundation made more than $10 million in financial contributions to Michigan nonprofits last year.

Efficiency programs

Consumers Energy offers a variety of energy-efficiency programs, helping consumers and businesses cut their energy costs.

Since 2009, the utility said its customers have saved more than $850 million through rebates and other measures that continue to provide savings year after year.

Consumers Energy also provides instant discounts on lighting products at retailers throughout the state. Reduced pricing is denoted with a Consumers Energy label near the lighting product’s price sticker.

Hunger relief

The Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank distributes food through a network of more than 1,100 food pantries, youth programs and other hunger-relief agencies in 40 counties from the Indiana border through the Upper Peninsula.

Each year, an estimated 492,100 people receive food from the nonprofit.

The Food Bank of South Central Michigan believes “no one should go hungry,” and it’s dedicated to “building and sustaining a community that makes grocery products accessible to all people.”

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