Consumers Energy plans solar farm at former coal plant site

ESSEXVILLE–Consumers Energy is taking another step toward its clean energy goals, announcing new plans for an 85-megawatt solar array at the former Karn coal facilities, which closed earlier this year.

“Consumers Energy put years of thoughtful work into closing the Karn facilities, and chief among those considerations was how we wanted the site to operate and function after the closure,” said David Hicks, Consumers Energy’s vice president of clean energy development. “Based on future use studies and input from local stakeholders, solar emerged as the best option to ensure we continue to be good stewards of the land and to provide valuable tax dollars for the community while still pushing us further toward our sustainability goals.”

The solar array project is in its early stages, and Consumers Energy continues to work closely with community members, neighbors, and local leaders to design a responsible project that fits with the community and continues the path toward renewable generation. The project could provide enough power for approximately 20,000 homes and will pay local, county and school district taxes, totaling millions of dollars over its 30-plus-year lifetime.

The project, which aims to be operational by 2026, will reflect two foundational Consumers Energy goals: the significant scaling-up of renewable projects — specifically solar energy — throughout the state as part of its ambitious Clean Energy Plan, and the commitment to making a just transition for employees as part of the shift away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy sources.

The closure of Karn 1 and 2 in June marked continued progress toward Consumers Energy’s goal of closing all coal plants by 2025 — 15 years ahead of the original schedule. The ongoing transition balances the responsibility to provide safe, reliable energy to power Michigan homes and businesses with the need to protect the state’s natural resources.

Over the next two decades, the Clean Energy Plan should:

  • Reduce Consumers Energy CO2 emissions by more than 73 million tons — the equivalent of taking 12.4 million passenger vehicles off the road for one year.
  • Dramatically reduce emissions by criteria pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx), mercury and particulate matter.
  • Generate over half our electric capacity with renewable resources — wind and solar energy — by 2040.

Consumers Energy is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), 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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