JACKSON, Mich. (WOOD) — Consumers Energy is launching a new program, giving customers a way to offset the carbon emissions from heating their homes and businesses with natural gas.
The “MI Clean Air” program is part of the utility company’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2050, allowing customers to pay a small monthly charge in exchange for actions taken to make up for their carbon emissions.
Fees range from $6 to $20 per month. In exchange, Consumers will commit to planting trees and rebuilding sustainable forests.
“The money from the subscription goes to support sustainable forestry in Michigan that captures carbon offsets from the burning of the natural gas,” Consumers spokesperson Terry DeDoes said. “The sustainable forests that will support this program is 5.5 square miles — 3,700 acres — in Luce County in the Upper Peninsula.”
The $6 option is the cheapest. For that, Consumers says it will plant enough trees to compensate for 30% of a home’s carbon emissions. According to Consumers, the natural gas used to heat the average home emits more than 5 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. The compensation for all of those emissions would be the equivalent of driving 13,000 less miles and consuming 606 fewer gallons of gasoline each year.
“That puts that into perspective, how big of an impact the small steps and role in this program has on the environment,” DeDoes said.
Commercial businesses can also join to support sustainable trees or other international options that Consumers Energy is still setting up.
Consumers Energy first announced its clean energy goals in 2018. The company is currently on track to be coal-free by 2025, making the utility one of the first in the nation to do so.
In the last decade, Consumers says it has cut its emissions by 15% by replacing old pipelines. The company estimates the move to renewable resources will also save customers an estimated $600 million by 2040.