Consumers to increase renewable energy and retire coal plants

JACKSON, Mich. (WSYM) - Consumers Energy proposed a plan on Wednesday to retire coal plants and create more renewable energy.

The company put out a press release stated that they will file "an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) this week with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) that outlines the path to using zero coal while ensuring affordable and reliable energy for Michigan’s families and businesses."

The plan will detail how the company will meet the state’s energy needs with increased use of renewable energy. For instance, they say they will increase renewable energy from 11% to 37% by 2030 and 43% by 2040.

“Our vision considers people, the planet and the prosperity of our state and the communities we serve. This IRP will help guide key decisions in the coming years to make us a cleaner, leaner company for the Great Lakes State,” said Patti Poppe, President and CEO of Consumers Energy and CMS Energy. “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.”

This plan should reduce carbon emissions by 80% and they say it will eliminate the use of coal to generate electricity by 2040.

They say the plan will include closing down two "aging, coal-fired units at the Karn Generating Complex," which is near bay City. That could close by 2023.

“We’re grateful for the power the Karn coal units have provided for Michigan over the decades and proud of our co-workers who’ve operated and maintained them so faithfully. The company will be working actively to care for our co-workers through this transition,” Poppe said. “We plan to support Hampton Township and the Bay region as they re-imagine the local economic landscape after these units are retired.”

Health professionals were quick to rejoice when they heard the announcement.

“Burning coal emits dangerous pollutants into our air that cause serious health problems, like asthma, lung and heart disease and other respiratory conditions,” said Kindra Weid, RN, coalition coordinator for MI Air MI Health. “We applaud Consumers Energy for creating a bold plan to shut down coal plants and invest in clean, renewable energy, which will protect the health of Michigan families, children and seniors and ultimately save lives.”

“This bold commitment to clean energy will put Michigan on a path toward cleaner air and water, which will improve public health,” said Mara Herman, health outreach coordinator for the Ecology Center. “We applaud Consumers Energy for being a leader on clean energy in Michigan, and this announcement is a major step forward for communities across Michigan.”

“Consumers Energy’s historic clean energy plan will promote cleaner air, helping reduce Michigan’s asthma rate, which is well above the national average,” said Kathleen Slonager, director of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation Michigan Chapter. “Burning coal threatens the health of all Michiganders and we encourage other utility companies in Michigan to make similarly bold commitments to shutter coal plants and invest in clean energy.”

Even the Michigan League of Conservative Voters sent out a press release stating their approval of the plan.  “Today’s historic announcement by Consumers Energy will set Michigan on a path toward being a leader in clean, renewable energy, which will reduce dangerous pollution in our air and water and lower electricity costs,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “We applaud Consumers Energy for its bold commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency, and we will continue to hold the company accountable at the public service commission to ensure this plan becomes reality.”

And the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum issued the following statement: “Consumers Energy’s IRP is a major step forward for Michigan ratepayers," said Ed Rivet, executive director of MCEF.   "The plan will result in significant investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, moving our state closer to a diversified ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, and in turn helping to reduce electricity costs for Michigan families and businesses. We applaud Consumers Energy for taking steps to ensure Michiganders have more affordable, reliable and clean energy.”