I guess it’s Coal Week on Absolute Michigan. After taking a look back at the history of coal mining in the Saginaw Valley on Tuesday, we’re back on the subject with news from the Great Lakes Echo.
Michigan coal-fired plants to close; wind and air to step up by Nick McWherter of the Capital News Service says that Consumers Energy will close seven coal-fired power plants in Michigan and has cancelled construction of another to focus on clean energy. In their news release on the topic, Consumer’s President & CEO John Russell said that their investments – part of a $6.6 billion plan to add value to customers and improve the environment - were projected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs in Michigan and provide significant emissions reductions. Environmentalists concur:
“There are simply smarter ways to produce energy then relying on coal,” said Bruce Nilles, national director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. The inherent costs associated with mining and burning coal make clean energy more attractive, he said. Economically and environmentally, coal does not make sense.
Michigan is now in position to make strides in clean energy throughout the state, he said.
“There is a significant shift going on in the electric sector,” Nilles said. “Michigan has a chance to really be at the forefront. It has one of the oldest coal fleets in the country; many of these plants are literally teetering. It presents a tremendous opportunity to put people back to work and eliminate all the pollution that today is having such profound impacts across the state of Michigan.”
The motivation for the decision is Michigan’s Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy act. Established in 2008, the act requires utilities to supply 10% of their energy via renewables by 2015. Consumers is the second largest utility in the state and is at 5% renewable generation right now. Last month they also started construction of their first wind-farm, the Lake Winds Energy Park, part of a $1 billion investment in Mason County. Follow that link for details and a video from the Muskegon Chronicle.