PORT SHELDON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Consumers Energy has filed an update to its clean energy plan after an administrative judge asked for further review.
The plan would allow Consumers Energy to shut down all three coal units at the J.H. Campbell plant in Ottawa County and two others near Bay City, making it one of the first utility companies in the nation to go coal-free.
Last month, ahead of the final approval hearing with the Michigan Public Service Commission, Judge Sally Wallace recommended Consumers provide more evidence that it needs to shut down all three coal units in West Olive. The shutdown proposal for the J.H. Campbell plant was filed in June 2021. A spokesperson for the utility said closing the plant will not only help the company make a positive impact on the environment sooner, but also help the company and its customers save an estimated $600 million over the next two decades.
In the amended plan, Consumers will only buy one natural gas-fired power plant instead of four. Plans will move forward to purchase the Covert Generating Station in Van Buren County. The settlement also allows Consumers to build nearly 8,000 megawatts worth of additional solar power collection.
The utility will also designate $5 million to a fund set aside to help cover people with low incomes.
It seems all sides are content with the settlement. A spokesperson for Consumers Energy called it a great deal. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who has represented the public in the deal, advocating to keep energy rates affordable, called it a victory.
“Not only is this settlement a win for our environment, it’s also a win for Michigan ratepayers who have struggled to stay current on their bills,” Nessel said in a statement. “This agreement was truly a collaborative effort from all involved parties and a symbol of what we can achieve when stakeholders work together to create positive change.”
The Michigan Environmental Council also supports the deal. Charlotte Jameson, the council’s chief policy officer, told News 8 that Michigan would not be able to hit its carbon emissions goals by 2025 without Consumers Energy going coal-free.
“The Michigan Environmental Council applauds the work of the diverse set of stakeholders that reached this historic settlement agreement,” Jameson stated. “It’s a huge milestone in combating the climate crisis and will put Michigan on track to reach its near-term carbon neutrality goals. We urge the Commission to approve the settlement and secure the climate, air and economic benefits that will result.”
The settlement must still be approved by the MPSC. That hearing is expected to be held later this year.