Jackson-based Consumers Energy plans to stop using coal as a fuel source for electricity by 2025, taking 15 years off its current proposal. The plan would make the utility company one of the first in the nation to go coal-free and provide a 20-year blueprint to meet Michigan’s energy needs while protecting the environment. The plan still requires regulatory approval.
“We are committed to being a force of change and good stewards of our environment, producing reliable, affordable energy for our customers while caring for our communities during this,” says Garrick Rochow, president and CEO.
Rochow says it will make Consumers one of the first in the nation to be coal-free by 2025, along with ensuring the use of 90 percent clean energy resources and construction of nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar energy infrastructure by 2040. It is expected to save customers around $650 million through 2040 and will keep the company on the path to achieve carbon neutrality.
If approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission, the company’s three coal-fired units at the Campbell generating complex near Holland. The complexes were already set to close —Campbell 1 and 2 would shutter six years earlier and Campbell 3 roughly 15 years sooner.
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.
“Consumers Energy is committed to a just transition away from coal as a fuel source for electricity,” says Brandon Hofmeister, senior vice president for governmental, regulatory, and public affairs.
“We supported employees and communities impacted by our 2016 coal retirements by finding new roles for workers who wanted to stay, fulfilling our environmental responsibilities at the sites, and helping local leaders pursue new economic possibilities. We plan to follow the same philosophy to help those affected by the proposed Campbell and Karn retirements.”
The rapid transition to clean, renewable sources include the addition of nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar power. Consumers Energy’s solar power ramp-up started and will continue throughout the 2020s. It currently operates solar power plants at Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, and in Cadillac and purchases solar generation from several sites in Michigan.
The plan 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. The proposed purchases require state and federal regulatory approvals.