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July 29 (Reuters) - Michigan environmental regulators approved an air permit for Michigan power company Consumers Energy's proposed $750 million natural gas-fired power plant in the state's Thetford Township.
Consumers, a unit of CMS Energy Corp, said in a statement that the air permit was the first major approval for the 700-megawatt combined-cycle project.
The project still needs the approval of the Michigan Public Service Commission and "suitable" financing, the company said.
The plant will produce enough energy for about 700,000 homes.
The Thetford project, about 80 miles northwest of Detroit, is expected to create 600 construction jobs and about 30 full-time jobs once operating, the company said.
If all goes as planned, Consumers said construction will begin in 2014 with operations starting in 2017.
Consumers said Thetford will produce about 50 percent less carbon emissions than seven older coal plants it will replace, helping the company reach its greenhouse gas reduction target of 20 percent by 2025.
Consumers said it provides natural gas and electricity to some 6.6 million people in Michigan.