- Consumers Energy has proposed to increase its solar power capacity by building nearly 8 GW capacity by 2040
- It also wants to shed its remaining coal fired generation capacity of 1.44 GW by 2025, 15 years ahead of current schedule
- Management plans to also add 4 operational natural gas facilities to its current portfolio
Michigan, US based electric utility, Consumers Energy has proposed to Michigan Public Service Commission an update to its plans to shutter all coal based power plant capacity by 2025, preponing the same by 15 years than what it officially is expected to do now. It has 3 remaining coal-fired power generating units at the Campbell generating complex near Holland with a combined capacity of 1.44 GW.
Instead, by 2040 it plans to increase the share of clean energy resources in its portfolio to 90% which includes plans to build nearly 8 GW of solar energy capacity for its commercial and residential consumers, as part of the proposal to have 90% clean energy resources in its portfolio. Management plans to competitively bid solar power supply to keep ‘energy bills affordable’.
In June 2019, the commission approved Consumers Energy’s plans to competitively bid 5 GW solar power capacity by 2030 (see Michigan Utility’s 5 GW Solar Plan Approved).
Currently, it operates solar power plants at Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and in Cadillac. It also procured solar power from several sites in Michigan, Consumers Energy shared.
In addition, it has proposed to close 2 natural gas and fuel oil powered units with 1.1 GW capacity by 2023, around 8 years earlier than their design lives. However, natural gas will remain part of its portfolio in the form of currently operational facilities in Zeeland and Jackson and 4 new operational projects it wants to buy in Van Buren County, Wayne County, Kalamazoo County and Otsego County.
By 2040, this would mean solar and wind power to account for 60% of its operational clean energy portfolio and with the addition of natural gas, energy storage and customer efficiency, it would grow to 90%. It added that this would save customers about $650 million through 2040.
Consumers Energy’s complete 2021 Clean Energy Plan can be viewed on its website.
Transitioning to clean energy by utilities in the US is one among various factors enabling the uptake in solar power in the country which is also growing in response to the increasing clean energy requirements by corporate customers. In September 2020, another US utility, Ameren Corporation said it wants to add 5.4 GW of new renewable energy capacity by 2040 to capitalize on lower costs for clean energy resources (see US Utility To Invest $8 Billion In RE By 2040).