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Posted: 07/31/13

ENERGIZED INVESTMENTS. Above, Armada Township Supervisor John Paterek acknowledges how the investments made by Consumers Energy into its Ray Compressor Station will benefit the local community. Below, the company spent $175 million to improve the storage and delivery of natural gas, and celebrated the project's completion on July 26.

(Observer photos by Chris Gray)

Consumers Energy
enhances Armada station

Observer Staff Writer
      Armada Township Supervisor John Paterek found it fitting that Consumers Energy calls its upgraded Ray Compressor Station, located in Armada, a "crown jewel."
       "I quite honestly refer to Armada as the pearl of northern Macomb County," Paterek said. "So to have a jewel and a pearl all in the same township I think is a pretty fortunate situation."
       Officials from all levels of government joined Consumers Energy employees on July 26 in celebrating the completion of a $175 million investment to its compressor station.
       The energy company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the station, located at 32 Mile and Omo roads, that stores and delivers natural gas for 40 percent of the 1.7 million customers in Michigan.
       The $175 million project began in 2010 due to increased demands and finished up earlier this year. More than 850,000 hours were invested by employees and Michigan-based contractors to complete the station.
       There are plans to hire 150 new employees to handle the increased workload. The expansion is expected to add roughly $1.2 million in property taxes.
       Paterek said the investment definitely helps the township's tax base, but it also boosted the local economy.
       "It was the commitment of Consumers Energy, its staff and employees, to help our town, to go downtown and patronize our businesses," he said.
       Dan Malone, senior vice president of distribution and customer operations, said the investment installed five new engines to compress the natural gas and push it into the fields. The engines produce 23,675 horsepower to power their compressors, which he said equates to 242 Toyota Priuses or 51 2014 Chevy Corvettes.
       "There is no doubt this facility is the backbone of our system, it is the crown jewel," Malone said.
       David Mengebier, senior vice president of governmental and public affairs and chief compliance officer, said the new storage lets the company purchase gas in the summer at cheaper prices and store it in the winter for later use, passing on economic benefits to customers.
       "Consumers Energy is very proud to possess one of the largest natural gas storage preserves in the nation thanks to location of some very favorable underground rock formations," Mengebier said.
       The Ray storage field is one of 15 the company owns, measuring in at 1,600 acres that stores 43 billion cubic feet of natural gas in porous rocks.
       He said Consumers Energy plans to invest $7 billion in the next five years into infrastructure.
       The facility has been in service for about 50 years in Armada Township. Safety features include overpressure protection, fire detection, gas leak detection and remote monitoring of all alarms. Federal agencies have also collaborated with the company to prevent cyber security threats.
       District 33 State Representative Ken Goike said if fossil fuels aren't used they will pollute the world, so he likes that the company is doing so in a safe manner.
       "When I bought my property on 32 Mile Road I had no qualms to gas company property butting up to the back of my property," he said.
       U.S. Congesswoman Candice Miller was in attendance. She echoed comments that the facility helps the local community with immediate and long-term benefits.
       On a grander scale, she predicted the future of powering automobiles is tied into natural gas as opposed to other fossil fuels, and believes companies like Consumers Energy and their investments will change the geo-politics of the world for the better.
       "Natural gas, of course, has become such an integral part of our entire energy portfolio," she said. "It really is the cleanest fossil fuel available to us."

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