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Consumers Energy Provides $3 Million to Nonprofit Groups to Help Michigan Residents Keep Lights on, Stay Warm

Includes Support for Innovative Pilot Program to Help Participants Manage Bills

JACKSON, Mich., Feb. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy is helping Michigan residents stay warm this winter – and developing tools that should let many manage their energy bills more effectively in the future – with $3 million in recent grants to three statewide nonprofit organizations.

TrueNorth Community Services, The Salvation Army and The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) will distribute $2 million in immediate energy assistance that helps income-qualified customers stay up to date with their energy bills.

Another $1 million will allow THAW to expand its social innovation initiatives, including building upon a pilot program currently operating in Flint that helps income-qualified residents reduce their energy usage and better manage energy expenses.

Participants in the Clear Control program receive daily texts that detail their household energy usage costs, make smaller, more frequent payments and receive immediate financial assistance in certain circumstances. Customers remain in the program as long as they stay current on their account.

"Consumers Energy strives to provide Michigan residents with the tools to manage and reduce their monthly bills, and to provide the resources to make sure people don't go without light and warmth," said Patti Poppe, vice president of customer experience, rates and regulation.

"We are providing our nonprofit partners with financial resources to help thousands of people in need this winter, and they are helping us build new strategies that can empower many to manage their bills more effectively."

THAW's Clear Control pilot program began in October, and there have been noticeable results with the first group of participants. Most have paid bills on time, and participants have used less energy. Lessons learned from Clear Control will be incorporated into the company's overall energy assistance program design and development, including communities beyond Flint later this year.

"Our partnership with Consumers Energy looks to create sustainable solutions for Michigan's low income energy consumers," said Susan Sherer, chief executive officer of THAW. "Our unique corporate-nonprofit collaborative will help foster self-sufficiency among vulnerable households statewide."

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Nonprofit partners

THE HEAT AND WARMTH FUND (THAW) is an independent nonprofit (501(c)(3) agency that provides emergency energy assistance to Michigan residents in need and advocates for long-term energy solutions. THAW was established in 1985 to improve the quality of life in Michigan and prevent human suffering by helping low-income individuals facing an energy crisis.

THE SALVATION ARMY has supported those in need for more than 130 years in the United States. For 31 years, Consumers Energy has partnered with The Salvation Army to meet emergency needs through the PeopleCare program.

TRUENORTH COMMUNITY SERVICES provides client-centered services to 61 Michigan counties by addressing rural poverty, building vibrant communities, and ensuring youth thrive. TrueNorth partners with Consumers Energy to provide vital energy assistance to rural Michigan residents.

For more information regarding Consumers Energy, go to:

www.ConsumersEnergy.com or join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/consumersenergymichigan

SOURCE Consumers Energy

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