NEW YORK Dec 29 Consumers Energy's proposed
830-megawatt coal-fired power plant at the Karn/Weadock complex
in Michigan has moved a step closer to construction after the
state issued an air permit for the project, the company said
Consumers, a unit of Jackson, Michigan-based CMS Energy
Corp (CMS.N), said it would retire up to seven older coal-fired
units -- five when the new plant enters service and another two
depending on the needs of its 1.8 million Michigan customers.
The company has not identified the older coal plants to be
retired but planned to do so when it files for a certificate of
necessity with the Michigan Public Service Commission in 2010,
a spokesman told Reuters.
The new plant is expected to cost more than $2 billion and
enter service in 2017.
It's a tough time to build new coal plants, in part due to
uncertainty over whether the federal government will cap carbon
dioxide emissions from coal and other fossil-fired power plants
in an effort to stop global warming.
But Consumers, which has the oldest coal-fired fleet in the
nation with an average age of 50 years, said the new plant, the
retirement of the old plants and its plans to invest billions
in renewable power, efficiency and demand side management would
significantly reduce overall emissions, including carbon.
Consumers said production of the currently regulated
emissions would be down as much as 91 percent for sulfur
dioxide, 83 percent for nitrogen oxides and 81 percent for
Consumers said it would design the new plant to utilize
carbon capture and storage technology once it becomes
commercially and economically viable.
The new project would create 1,800 construction jobs, about
2,500 indirect jobs and more than 100 permanent jobs after it
is operating, providing an estimated $1.2 billion boost to
Michigan's economy, the company said.
"This permit moves our project a step closer to creating
badly needed jobs and boosting the state's economy," John
Russell, Consumers president and chief operating officer, said
in the release.
The 2,101 MW coal, oil and natural gas-fired Karn/Weadock
complex is located near Bay City about 115 miles (185 km)
north-northwest of Detroit. It uses about 3 million tons of
coal a year, according to the company website.
Coal dominates generation in Michigan, according to federal
data, supplying nearly three-fifths of the state's power. But
Michigan has mandated that 10 percent of electricity come from
renewable sources by 2015.
Consumers plans to invest more than $1.2 billion to build
450 MW of wind generating capacity, among other things.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by Jim Marshall)