(Source: MIRS.news, Published 06/24/2022). The Michigan Public Service Commission approved a settlement agreement Thursday between several environmental advocates and Attorney General Dana Nessel that will make Consumers Energy one of the country's largest green-energy providers.
The settlement agreement includes the closure of the J.H. Campbell coal-fired power plant in Ottawa County by 2025. To make up the energy loss Consumers Energy is buying the Covert Generating Station, a natural gas-fired power plant in Van Buren County, in 2023. The D.E. Karn Generating Complex, natural gas and fuel oil burning units near Bay City, would remain online until 2031 instead of retiring in 2023.
“Yeah, it’s big,” said MPSC Chair Dan Scripps.
The utility will also be including the total emissions, annual particulate matter health impacts, an environmental justice screening tool, low-income energy efficiency participation levels, transmission import capability, publicly available rooftop solar adoption rates in its next resource plan presented to the board, which have been required by utilities since 2016.
Consumers Energy has also agreed to speed up energy storage to 75 megawatts by 2027 and 550 megawatts by 2040. One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes for one year.
“This is a historic moment in Michigan’s clean energy transformation journey,” said Garrick Rochow, president and CEO of Consumers Energy. “The Clean Energy Plan is a sea change that positions our company as a national leader and empowers us to deliver reliable energy while protecting the planet for decades to come.”
Several climate groups that had signed on the settlement also lauded the passage of the settlement by the MPSC, who said 4,500 residents submitted public comments on the matter.
“The settlement agreement with Consumers Energy is a significant step forward in Michigan’s fight against the climate crisis,” said Derrell Slaughter, Michigan Clean Energy Advocate at Natural Resources Defense Council.
“The fact that we had thousands of comments to drop off at the Consumers Energy office made me very hopeful that we would push the utility to come up with a better plan for renewable energy,” said Sergio Cira-Reyes, with Urban Core Collective in Grand Rapids.
The settlement will also have Consumers Energy donate $5 million to a fund providing income-based energy bill assistance in 2022 and $2 million a year after. The agreement states the donations will not be recovered in customer rates.
“We know that pollution from fossil fuels and extreme weather from the climate crisis hits Black, brown and low-income communities disproportionately and we are glad to see our communities speak out to protect themselves,” Cira-Reyes said.
Hemlock Semiconductor Operations Sustainability Leader Steven Holty also praised the 20-year blueprint that was set by the settlement agreement.
“Today is historic for our clean energy future and we are proud to have helped shift Michigan’s grid to be greener and more sustainable,” Holty said.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rolled out a MI Healthy Climate Plan with an executive order to have the state be fully carbon neutral by 2050.