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BUSINESS BEAT: Consumers Energy to purchase power plant

JACKSON, MI (WTVB) - Consumers Energy’s parent company announcement today that it will purchase a $155 million natural gas power plant in Jackson and put a larger plant on hold should lead the utility to make to a stronger commitment to renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, a citizens clean energy coalition said today. 

“The decision to delay development of a mega-plant in favor of a smaller unit could allow Consumers Energy to focus more on renewable energy sources to meet its customers’ needs,” said Tiffany Hartung, with Sierra Club’s Michigan Beyond Coal Campaign. “But Consumers Energy needs to step up to the plate, make a stronger commitment to its clean energy investments and complete the retirement of its dirty, outdated coal-fired plants that are harming public health and the environment. The decision to buy a smaller fossil fuel plant could be a good choice for ratepayers but it must be followed by stronger investments in clean energy and retirement of the utility’s coal plants."

CMS Energy, in announcing the purchase of the Jackson power plant, put on hold plans for a larger $700 million gas plant in Thetford Township. That plant was intended to replace seven aging coal units, which Consumers Energy has announced plans to mothball for at least three years.  

 “Consumers’ decision to not proceed with the Thetford proposal is good for both customers and public health, as it avoids spending hundreds of millions of dollars on unnecessary new fossil fuel capacity,”said Shannon Fisk, a Managing Attorney for Earthjustice. “We urge Consumers to build on this good start by committing to permanently retire its dirty and uneconomic coal units, and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources that will create jobs and help reduce electric bills.”