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Ira Township — Consumers Energy is investing $165 million to help increase reliability for the Michigan utility’s roughly 1.7 million natural gas customers.

A groundbreaking for the project takes place Thursday at the St. Clair Compressor Station in St. Clair County’s Ira Township, about 30 miles northeast of Detroit.

The unit of Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. says the upgrades to the St. Clair Compressor Station also will expand the company’s gas storage capabilities. Consumers Energy says the project will use about 140 skilled contractors. Completion is expected by late 2017

Natural gas compressor stations help transport natural gas from one location to another by pressurizing natural gas so that it can travel through pipelines.

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