October 18, 2021

Michigan-based Consumers Energy pledges to pull plug completely on coal by 2025

3 min read

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, has moved its own goal posts forward 15 years to pledge it’ll cease using coal as a fuel source for electricity by 2025.

The Jackson-based company initially assured it would be coal-free by 2040. Consumers claims it is among the first utilities in the nation to completely halt the use of coal.

The announcement was preceded by the company’s 2019 proclamation to abandon its use of natural gas, a goal the company has since walked back, as well as its plans to close the Palisades nuclear power facility by next year. 

In fact, Consumers proposes buying 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. Palisades, currently producing 800 megawatts of energy near Covert, is still on Consumers’ chopping block.

The company says new and emerging solar and wind technologies will enable it to generate 60% of Michigan’s energy needs by 2040. When combined with energy storage advancements and more efficient energy use by its customers, Consumers says it will provide 90% clean energy before 2040.

“It’s reassuring that Consumers Energy has recognized their 2019 plans to abandon much of their natural gas capacity simply wasn’t sustainable,” Mackinac Center for Public Policy Environmental Director Jason Hayes told The Center Square. “I’m also glad to see they are targeting the purchase of two existing gas plants to bolster reliability,” he added.

Hayes said he’s skeptical the company will be able to pull off its impending moratorium on coal and nuclear, comparing Michigan to other states electrical grid policies.

“Anyone that has seen the news of Texas and California’s increasingly unstable grid, or who lived through Michigan’s January 2019 Polar Vortex event, will know that their plans to close all their coal and nuclear assets by 2025 still puts Michigan’s electrical grid dangerously at risk of failure. Coal and nuclear kept our lights and heaters on during the extreme cold in January 2019, when the explosion at the Ray Compressor station shut down more than 60% of Consumers Energy’s natural gas supply,” Hayes said.

“Despite that reality, Consumers Energy is still planning to build a system that would have failed us in 2019,” Hayes said. “The system they’re building is the same renewables-backed-by-gas system that failed Texas in February and that has failed California for the past three summers.”

If approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission, the updated plan would speed closure of three coal-fired units at the Campbell generating complex near Holland. Campbell 1 and 2, collectively capable of producing more than 600 megawatts of electricity, would retire in 2025 – roughly six years sooner than their scheduled design lives. Campbell 3, capable of generating 840 MW, would also retire in 2025 – roughly 15 years sooner than its scheduled design life.

Additionally, the updated proposal also calls for moving up 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, to 2023 – about eight years sooner than their design lives.

The plan also aims to

  • Use 90% clean energy resources by 2040
  • Build nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar energy to power Michigan’s homes and businesses by 2040
  • Stay on the path to achieve net zero carbon emissions, and
  • Save customers about $650 million through 2040.

“We are proud to lead Michigan’s clean energy transformation and be one of the first utilities in the country to end coal use,” Consumers President and CEO Garrick Rochow said in a statement.

This article was originally posted on Michigan-based Consumers Energy pledges to pull plug completely on coal by 2025

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