Battery covers give bat homes at Consumers Energy

Jackson Citizen PatriotJuly 15, 2014 

Exchange Battery Bat Caves

In this May 21, 2014, photo released by Consumers Energy, Rich Castle, left, with Consumers Energy; Eagle Scout Matthew Netherland; and Emily McDonald, of General Motors, stand next to bat houses made with Chevrolet Volt battery cases, location not known. Using scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers donated by GM, 16-year-old Netherland, of Clarkston, and some helpers built 30 bat boxes. More than 2,000 bats could have a new home at Consumers Energy hydro power plants thanks to collaboration between the utility, General Motors and Netherland. Netherland created the bat houses for his project to earn Eagle Scout, the highest achievement in Boy Scouts of America.

CONSUMERS ENERGY — AP Photo

— More than 2,000 bats could have a new home at Consumers Energy hydro power plants thanks to collaboration between the utility, General Motors and a Boy Scout from Clarkston.

Using scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers donated by GM, 16-year-old Matthew Netherland from Clarkston, (about 40 miles northwest of Detroit) and some helpers built 30 bat boxes in a few months, according to the Jackson Citizen Patriot (http://bit.ly/1naWTSj ).

Consumers Energy, which operates 13 hydroelectric plants along the Au Sable, Grand, Kalamazoo, Manistee and Muskegon rivers, will install 22 of those bat houses at select properties.

"I thought it would be nice to give them a place to stay," said Netherland, who will enter his junior year at Clarkston High School this fall. "They have a place to stay for the winter."

Netherland created the bat houses for his project to earn Eagle Scout, the highest achievement in Boy Scouts of America.

The houses are about 2 to 3 feet long and 1 foot wide and will give the bats a place to live, other than people's attics, he said. Each house can fit more than 100 bats, if not 200, Netherland said.

Consumers Energy and GM have both been recognized for their dedication to preserve natural resources, and properties for each company have received certification by the Wildlife Habitat Council.

"Hydro dams generate clean electricity, and cars that run on electricity are a cleaner form of transportation," said Rich Castle, Consumers Energy's natural resource manager for hydro generation. "The battery covers from the electric-powered vehicles are being kept out of landfills, and by being utilized as bat homes they allow biodiversity to thrive along the river habitats that produce renewable energy."

Emily McDonald, environmental engineer for GM, coordinated with Netherland on his project and was impressed by his energy and dedication.

GM has built more than 520 wood duck, bat and bluebird nesting boxes from Volt battery covers, with many spread out among its facilities' grounds.

"We've worked with renowned bat experts on our bat house design and are grateful that we can partner with others who share our passion for conservation and will help us make a lasting impact," McDonald said. "The Volt covers are made with durable material and will result in wildlife nesting opportunities for a long time."

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Information from: Jackson Citizen Patriot, http://www.mlive.com/jackson

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