The City Gave Away Its Soul To Keep Consumers Power
The 1927 Vintage Albert Kahn Designed Consumers
Consumers Energy grew from many small
separate electric and gas businesses in several cities in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
The Company's founding is traced back to the Jackson Electric Light Works, which began
in 1886 under W. A. Foote. Consumers Energy celebrated its centennial in 1986 and has
been serving Michigan customers for more than 120 years. A new award-winning corporate
headquarters building opened in 2003 in downtown Jackson at One Energy
Steady growth followed until they expanded to provide electric
service to 1.8 million customers, serving 275 cities and villages in 61 counties.
Principal cities served are Battle Creek, Bay City, Cadillac, Flint, Grand Rapids,
Jackson, Kalamazoo, Midland, Muskegon and Saginaw.
Consumers decided they wanted a new world headquarters to go along
with their since failed effort to become a major player in foreign energy
To accomplish this feat CE decided to strong arm Jackson into
subsidizing the project by condemning structures and demolishing them over a large area
where the CE campus is now located. Jackson suffered at the negotiating table due to a
naive negotiating team and got stuck not only paying for the land clearing but paying
to replace demolished buildings where one of the parking lots stands. Jackson built the
new building where the social security office stands today and relocated all the
dialysis equipment for the owners of the dialysis center. The shenanigans and what it
cost the city are too complicated for such a short essay.
Jackson even bought the
old Consumers building built in 1927 for $350,000 and ended up tearing it down at a
cost to taxpayers of over $2 million.
CE was suggesting in the negotiations that they would close their
Parnall Rd facility and transfer all those employees to the CE campus which would have
resulted in significant increases in income tax revenue. Never happened, it was a
overstatement by CE negotiators to get the city to sign on to the give away's. CE could
never have moved all their equipment and personnel downtown. There is not the room to
accommodate such a move.
Jackson also agreed to build 2 parking structures
for CE employees at a cost of $18.5 million. All of these projects were funded through
Tax Increment Funding that was supposed to secure the tax revenues from all the
development that would take place as a result of the CE relocation to their new campus.
That did not work out and the city is refunding bond after bond and paying ever
increasing payments of principal and interest. (See Home Page bottom). To make matters
worse, the parking structures are costing the city $750,000 per year and returning only
$250,000 in parking revenues from CE employees.
CE has recently founded/joined a downtown "Anchor Initiative" to
attract renters and thence businesses downtown. This effort to increase tax collection
in the area is certainly a worthy goal but I think a self serving one. I am sure CE
wants to rid itself of the perception of bullying Jackson into the position it is
C.E. could certainly enhance the perception that they are on board
with the Anchor Initiative by paying to relocate the million dollar Nevelson sculpture
gifted to the city to the anchor at the end of Main St.
City tax dollars have
been going to pay the debt service on the bonds we took out to finance the CE campus.
CE threatened to leave downtown if Jackson did not play ball. And a costly loss it is.
Our streets are falling apart, the gutters filthy, catch basins clogged and when it
rains the backed up water further undermines the streets causing propagation of
potholes. All of those giveaways to CE quite possibly compromised out ability to
maintain the infrastructure, the police force, the fire brigades, keeping open fire
stations and many other necessary municipal functions.