The Manufacturing Industry: Building Back Fast

Despite turbulence caused by labor and supply chain challenges, the manufacturing industry is experiencing a positive trajectory as it recovers from the pandemic.


As Michigan’s largest energy provider, Consumers Energy is committed to powering Michigan’s prosperity while protecting the planet by being one of the first in the nation to go coal-free.

In June 2021, the nation’s fourth largest combination utility announced a wide-ranging proposal to stop using coal as a fuel source for electricity by 2025—15 years faster than currently planned.

manufacturing industry
Michigan manufacturers, like Elm Plating, are working with Consumers Energy to save energy and money while helping care for the environment. (Photos: Consumers Energy)

“We are proud to lead Michigan’s clean energy transformation and be one of the first utilities in the country to end coal use,” President and CEO Garrick Rochow said. “We are committed to being a force of change and good stewards of our environment, producing reliable, affordable energy for our customers while caring for our communities during this transition.”

The plan, which requires regulatory approval, ensures the company will:

  • Be among the first utilities in the nation to go coal-free by 2025
  • Use 90% clean energy resources by 2040
  • Build nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar energy to power Michigan’s homes and businesses by 2040
  • Stay on the path to achieve net zero carbon emissions, and
  • Save customers about $650 million through 2040

Helping Businesses Grow

Consumers Energy, a 2021 Editor’s Pick Top Utility with Business Facilities, also offers resources beyond reliable energy to help new and expanding businesses ensure a solid start, successful future and a great customer experience.

The energy provider continues building upon record electric load growth in 2020 along with adding more jobs in the Lower Peninsula. The company continues to partner with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and others to grow talent and innovation and expand Energy Ready Sites for new business ventures.

“We are working to reduce risk by offering competitive industrial electric rate options, competitive natural gas prices and robust new construction and energy efficiency incentives,” said Valerie Christofferson, Director of Economic Development.

“And we connect all the dots: education and talent, tax incentives, electric rates, natural resources and more. We work together to understand how all factors fit together for each business, and we recognize what works for one business might not for another.”

Located in the state that helped put the world on wheels, the utility is charging forward with an infrastructure to support electric vehicles in businesses and homes.

Consumers Energy is rolling out 200 fast-charging stations by 2024, and in June debuted its PowerMIFleet program, which offers participating companies expertise and $3 million in rebates for charging locations throughout the state. Early this year, a coalition of Midwest energy providers, including Consumers Energy, committed to long-range EV charging expanded to 10 companies. EV drivers now will have a fast-charging network along the 1,300-mile drive from Mackinac City to the Colorado border.

Michigan is a national leader in manufacturing, and Consumers Energy is helping to power that success.

Michigan was ranked first in “Automotive Manufacturing Strength” in Business Facilities magazine’s 2020 state rankings and according to the MEDC at, Michigan has the greatest concentration of mechanical and industrial engineers; over four times higher than the national average.

Elm Plating, in Jackson, is one of many manufacturers working with Consumers Energy to take steps to protect Michigan’s many environmental assets while also saving money.

Company leaders at Elm Plating said the energy provider has been a big help with their energy efficiency programs. By participating in these programs, Elm Plating has saved about $70,000 on reduced energy use at its four Jackson plants and benefited from additional rebates and incentives during the last three years.

“It’s been part of the company’s moral fabric to do the right things that will reduce our environmental footprint,” said Brian Boyer, Director of Environmental Engineering for Elm Plating. Established in 1951, the family-owned business specializes in quality metal finishing for products used in the automotive and construction industries.

When it comes to keeping energy costs low over the long haul, energy efficiency incentives for current and planned upgrades have saved Consumers Energy customers about $4 billion since 2009 and offer competitive energy- and cost-saving advantages. The energy provider also assigns a no-cost energy advisor to help businesses maximize energy efficiency incentives.

Elm Plating also participates in the demand response program, agreeing to lower energy use during a limited number of days each summer when customer demand for electricity is very high. The company enrolled three facilities in the program and has earned nearly $120,000 in incentives the last three years by being flexible on its energy use.

“Our top priority is the quality of our services while protecting the environment,” said Boyer. “And Consumers Energy has been a big part of helping us to do this more efficiently.”

Consumers Energy also strongly believes in helping Michigan businesses grow through Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC).

Working through the PMBC initiative, created by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Consumers Energy committed to spend $1.5 billion per year with Michigan businesses through 2023 for a total of $7.5 billion of in-state spending during that period.

To date, the utility’s increased spending in its home state has created or retained over 22,500 jobs by Michigan-based suppliers and vendors.

“We are not successful if our businesses and communities don’t succeed,” said Christofferson. “We’re committed to a triple bottom line of people, planet and Michigan’s prosperity. And that doesn’t change in times of crisis. We’re here to help every step of the way.”