Consumers Energy plans to end coal use in four years

Consumers Energy announced a sweeping proposal to stop using coal as a fuel for electricity by 2025, 15 years ahead of schedule. The plan would make the company one of the first in the nation to go coal-free and provide a 20-year blueprint for meeting Michigan’s energy needs while protecting the environment for generations to come.

“We are proud to lead the clean energy transformation in Michigan and to be one of the first utilities in the country to end the use of coal,” said Garrick Rochow, president and CEO of Consumers Energy. “We are committed to being a force for change and good stewards of our environment, producing reliable, affordable energy for our customers while also caring for our communities during this transition.”

The plan, which requires regulatory approval, ensures that CE:

  • Be one of the first utilities in the country to be coal-free by 2025;
  • Use 90% clean energy sources by 2040;
  • Build nearly 8,000 MW of solar power to power Michigan homes and businesses by 2040;
  • Stay on track to achieve net zero CO2 emissions, and
  • Save customers approximately $650 million through 2040.

If approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission, the updated plan would accelerate the closure of CE’s three coal-fired units at the Campbell production complex near the Netherlands.

Campbell 1 and 2, collectively capable of producing more than 600 megawatts of electricity, are set to retire in 2025 — about six years ahead of their planned lifespan.

Campbell 3, capable of generating 840 MW, is also set to be retired in 2025 – about 15 years ahead of its planned lifespan.

The updated proposal also calls for the closure of Karn 3 and 4, units that run on natural gas and fuel oil and can generate more than 1,100 MW to meet peak demand, be pushed back to 2023 – about eight years ahead of their design lifetimes.

“Consumers Energy is committed to a just transition from coal as a fuel source to electricity,” said Brandon Hofmeister, senior VP for governmental, regulatory and public affairs. “We supported workers and communities affected by our coal retirements in 2016 by finding new roles for employees who wanted to stay, fulfilling our environmental responsibilities at the sites, and helping local leaders pursue new economic opportunities. We intend to follow the same philosophy to help those affected by Campbell and Karn’s proposed retirement.”

By 2040, clean, renewable fuel sources such as solar and wind will account for more than 60% of CE’s electrical capacity. Combining that growth with advances in energy storage and customer efficiency, the utility can meet customer needs with 90% clean energy sources. The rapid transition to clean, renewable resources includes the addition of nearly 8,000 MW of solar power. CE’s solar advance has begun and will continue into the 2020s. Consumers Energy currently operates solar power plants at Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and in Cadillac and purchases solar power at several locations in Michigan.

To ensure continued reliable, affordable energy for Michigan and the Midwest during this historic transition away from coal generation, Consumers Energy is proposing to purchase four existing natural gas-fired power plants in the state: Covert Generating Station in Van Buren County; Dearborn Industrial Generation in Wayne County; Kalamazoo River Generating Station in Kalamazoo County; and Livingston Generating Station in Otsego County. The proposed purchases require state and federal regulatory approvals. The plants in Kalamazoo River and Livingston are smaller and mainly used to meet peak demand.

These natural gas plants — along with Consumers Energy’s current natural gas-fired power plants in Zeeland and Jackson — would provide stable, reliable electricity to homes and businesses as the company invests more heavily in renewable energy and continues to research emerging technology to assess its impact on the environment.

CE says the new plan creates price stability and, by using natural gas as a fuel source to generate baseload power, will save customers about $650 million through 2040 compared to the utility’s current plan. Furthermore, the increased use of demand management tools, such as energy waste reduction programs, will give customers greater control over their monthly energy bills, saving them energy and money in the long run.

News release from Consumers Energy

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