Consumers Energy to retire two coal plants, go 43% renewables by 2040

JACKSON — Consumers Energy announced that it would file an Integrated Resource Plan with the Michigan Public Service Commission to zero out its use of coal as a power source and hit 37 percent renewables by 2030 and 43 percent to 2040, up from 11 percent today.

The company the plan would help it reach its goal of cutting reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent and eliminate the use of coal to generate electricity by 2040, while providing affordable and reliable power to customers.

The proposed strategy also includes retiring two aging, coal-fired units at the Karn Generating Complex near Bay City in 2023.

Consumers officials said modeling analysis showed higher levels of energy efficiency and demand management programs and renewable energy are the best and most affordable way to meet customers’ needs in the future.

Under the IRP, demand response, energy efficiency, and grid modernization tools would take on more significant roles. These virtual “power plants” will help customers save money on their energy bills and reduce energy demand 22 percent by 2040. Consumers Energy also would add 5,000 megawatts of solar energy throughout the 2020s, along with wind and battery storage.

“Our vision considers people, the planet and the prosperity of our state and the communities we servem” said Patti Poppe, president and CEO of Consumers Energy and its parent company, CMS Energy. “This IRP will help guide key decisions in the coming years to make us a cleaner, leaner company for the Great Lakes State. This is a pivotal moment in our company’s long, proud history — and this plan charts a course for us all to embrace the opportunities and meet the challenges of a new era.”

Karn units 1 and 2, located in Hampton Township near Bay City, came online in 1959 and 1961, respectively, and are capable of generating 515 megawatts of electricity. The retirement of Karn 1 and 2 continues a move away from coal as a generation fuel source that began in April 2016 with retirement of Consumers’ “Classic Seven” units located at the former Whiting, Cobb and Weadock sites.

Consumers Energy provides natural gas or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

See more information about Consumers Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan at www.ConsumersEnergy.com. The plan leaves Consumers with just one coal plant, the J.H. Campbell coal-burning plant in West Olive.

Environmental groups praised the move.

“This is great news for the people of Michigan. Consumers Energy is taking a step in the right direction by setting a retirement date for the Karn coal-fired power plant and apparently planning to replace that plant with clean energy. It is way past time for this antiquated technology and dirty fossil fuel to go,” said Regina Strong, Michigan director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

But, Strong added, “The job is not done. We will continue to organize Consumers’ customers to ensure that workers and the community around the Karn plant are taken care of. We will also continue to organize until all Consumers customers can be free of fossil fuels, with the retirement of the Campbell coal-fired power plant on Lake Michigan.”

Under Michigan law, Consumers is required to file a proposed 15-year energy plan with the state by Friday. Sierra Club and Earthjustice officials say they intend to evaluate that filing, and to actively engage in the PSC proceeding regarding the proposed plan.

More about the environmental groups at www.earthjustice.org and www.sierraclub.org.

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