Consumers Energy considers selling hydro dams

JACKSON–Officials at the Jackson electric utility Consumers Energy announced it will be issuing a request for proposal to explore the possibility of selling its 13 hydroelectric facilities due to the high cost of the electricity they generate, while evaluating the future of the dams and considering all options to safely maintain the dam reservoirs.

Consumers Energy last year held a series of public meetings with community members and local leaders about the dams’ future. Based on community feedback, Consumers Energy understands how important these facilities and the associated reservoirs are to local communities. Therefore, the energy provider is exploring all options to safely maintain the reservoirs – the lakes created by the dams — while reducing costs for Consumers Energy’s customers.

“After numerous conversations over the past year, it is clear the reservoirs are important for economic and recreational opportunities in these communities across Michigan,” said Norm Kapala, Consumers Energy’s vice president of generation operations. “But we also know that the current model for financing our hydroelectric power operations requires customers to pay more than nine times for the cost of energy compared to other sources of generation. Today’s announcement is an initial step we need to take to learn more about what selling the facilities might look like. If we choose to move forward and sell these facilities, our intention is to minimize the cost burden for customers while keeping the recreational and economic benefits for our communities. No final decision has been made, and we continue to explore all options.”

Consumers Energy began working with local officials and meeting with community leaders last year as licenses for the company’s dams begin to expire in 11 years. Consumers Energy’s 13 dams together produce less than 1 percent of energy used by the energy provider’s nearly 2 million customers, and they are several times more expensive than other energy sources.

Consumers Energy is planning another series of public community meetings later this summer and into the fall with the goal of collecting community feedback and discussing what a potential sale of the dams would mean, as well as other options continuing to be considered.

For meeting details, to provide comments, and more information about the process, visit:

“We know communities and residents that treasure these dams will have questions about the future. That’s why we will continue to provide timely updates and be transparent throughout this decision-making process,” Kapala said. “We’ve committed to exploring all options for safely maintaining these reservoirs for decades to come.”

Consumers Energy’s 30 to 40-year federal operating licenses on the Muskegon, Manistee, Grand, Kalamazoo and Au Sable rivers are set to expire beginning in 2034 through 2041.

Consumers Energy is Michigan’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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