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Published on April 30th, 2016 | by James Ayre


Michigan Utility Company Shutters 7 Coal-Fired Power Plants, Begins Operating New Community Solar Project

April 30th, 2016 by  

The Michigan utility company Consumers Energy recently finished the process of shutting down 7 regional coal-fired power plants, and, at the same time, beginning operations at a new community solar energy project in the area.

consumers energy solar Michigan

The new 3 megawatt (MW) solar energy project is located on a 17-acre site at Grand Valley State University, and is apparently now the largest community solar project in the state. The project is expected to generate enough electricity to supply 600 area households.

“The first location in our Solar Gardens program demonstrates our commitment to building a sustainable future for Michigan,” stated Dan Malone, Consumers Energy’s senior vice president of energy resources. “We are pleased to work with Grand Valley State University to develop a new source of renewable energy that will help power homes and businesses.”

There’s now a second project under construction at Western Michigan University, that’s currently expected to open later this summer, reportedly. The company is also considering a third project in the Lansing area, reportedly.

“Solar Gardens is part of our commitment to ensure that future generations in Michigan have affordable, reliable and increasingly clean energy,” Malone continued.

Those interested in enrolling in the program, or just interested in finding out more, can do so here.

Image by Consumers Energy (some rights reserved)

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Epicurus

    Hallelujah! Goodbye and good riddance,

  • Consumers Energy has been building several GW of gas turbines & baseload plansts over the past decade to phase out their old coal fleet.

    Siemens recently deployed some of their largest gas turbines for a 2+1 Single/Combined Cycle Gas plant, shipped from Germany (they made a promotional video of the efforts) and will be combining it with CHP opportunities for snow melt also. http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pennenergy/2015/02/siemens-to-supply-turbines-for-holland-combined-cycle-power-plant.html

    CE also has the 1,872 MW Luddington Pumped Storage facility, the second largest in the US. https://www.consumersenergy.com/content.aspx?id=6985

  • Burnerjack

    What’s missing here? No engineer, but I think 3 coal fired plants supplied more than the needs of 600 households. Where is the rest of supply coming from? What about energy storage? Seems like this article is incomplete.

    • jeffhre

      Yes, the size of the plants was not listed. In any case the last plant that they closed, BC Cobb was operating at a fraction of it’s capacity.

      “The B.C. Cobb, which started generating electricity in 1949, contains five power plants, all designed to burn coal. Three of the smaller, older plants were retrofitted in the mid-1990s to burn natural gas but have been inactive for several years. The two larger, newer plants have burned coal up until recently — Plant 4 was shut down on Tuesday, April 12.

      “Consumers shut down its ‘Classic Seven’ turbines in power plants across the state: Two at the B.C. Cobb in Muskegon, two at the D.E. Karn/J.C. Weadock Generating Complex in Essexville near Bay City, and three at the J.R. Whiting Generating Complex in Luna Pier.”

      “Five remaining coal-fired plants owned by Consumers — three at the nearby J. H. Campbell Generating Complex in West Olive, two at the Weadock facility near Bay City — are being upgraded to meet stricter federal standards for emissions.” – By Stephen Kloosterman

  • Ross

    Lots of scope for further improvement. They import all of their coal and most of their gas.

    • Jim Smith

      Michigan produces massive amounts of NG.

      • Ross

        The link I read said they import 70% of NG and another said fracking was in decline, perhaps they were out of date. Not sure what state fracking is currently at in Michigan.

        • Jim Smith

          you are correct, they do import around 70% today. I was mistaken.

  • Troy Frank

    Where’s the rest of the power being made up? 3MW is less than 1/100th of a single coal plant, much less 7.

    • Frank

      Good question, but coal is my least favorite. Maybe they’ll add a little more wind.

    • neroden

      It’s quite likely demand reduction. Thanks largely to the switch to LEDs, total electric usage has been dropping nationwide. This is just a guess, but I bet I’m right.

      • jeffhre

        Yes, mainly NG.

    • Jim Smith

      probably wind. Massive wind farms in the thumb

  • jeffhre

    ” ‘We are a leader in this issue. Only one other utility in the country is shutting down more of their coal fired generation plants,’ Wheeler says. These soon-to-be closed plants represent one third of Consumer’s coal power suppliers in Michigan.

    After the official retirement of the Classic 7, Consumers Energy’s carbon footprint will be reduced by 25%, with another 40% reduction in water use as well as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particles.” – From Lauren Leffel.

  • Kevin McKinney

    Fantastic! Now if only Detroit Ed would follow suit, Michigan would really be getting somewhere…

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