JACKSON — Michigan’s largest energy company announced today that it plans to phase out its remaining coal-fired power plants by 2025, which would be 15 years earlier than planned, as part of its updated long-term energy plan.
Jackson-based Consumers Energy’s revised energy plan that was previously approved by state energy regulators also calls for boosting its solar energy capacity to nearly 8,000 megawatts (MW) by 2040 as part of a 90 percent clean energy portfolio made up of wind, solar, battery storage and energy efficiency.
Consumers plans to ensure power reliability by buying four existing natural gas plants across Michigan, including in Van Buren and Kalamazoo counties.
The clean energy plan also seeks net zero carbon emissions and would save customers roughly $650 million by 2040 compared to its current plan, utility officials said today. The updated plan is subject to approval by the Michigan Public Service Commission.
“We are proud to lead Michigan’s clean energy transformation and be one of the first utilities in the country to end coal use,” Consumers Energy President and CEO Garrick Rochow said in a statement. “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 transition.”
Consumers seeks to close all three generating units at its J.H. Campbell Generating Complex in Port Sheldon. Two Campbell units totaling more than 600 MW were previously scheduled to close in 2031 while a third unit capable of generating 840 MW was scheduled to stay online until 2040. All three units are now planned to close in 2025.
Consumers also proposes to close two natural gas- and fuel oil-powered generating units at its D.E. Karn Generating Complex in Essexville in 2023.
The plant closures come as communities across the U.S. grapple with the retirement of large-scale centralized power plants that are large job and tax revenue providers.
Brandon Hofmeister, Consumers’ senior vice president for governmental, regulatory and public affairs, said the utility is committed to a “just transition” away from coal.
“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,” Hofmeister said in a statement. “We plan to follow the same philosophy to help those affected by the proposed Campbell and Karn retirements.”