Saturday, August 06, 2011

Consumers Keeps Bay County Coal Plant on Hold

Yes. Consumers Energy has paused its plans to build a $2.3 billion coal-fired plant in Bay County as alternative energy sources are stepping up to increase production.

From a wind-turbine farm in southern Bay County to a cutting-edge biomass-fueled plant in Midland County, other companies are moving forward with variety of energy projects. They include:

• Bay County’s Dow Corning Corp. plans to build a 40-megawatt power plant in Midland that burns wood and plant material to power its Midland manufacturing site.

• Florida-based Next Era Energy plans to build a 100-megawatt wind farm in Bay and Tuscola counties.

• The city of Midland fired up a gas-to-energy facility this year to convert methane gas in the city’s landfill into electricity. It is selling that power to the Dow Chemical Co.

• Farther north, Cadillac-based Wolverine Power recently won approval from the state for air permits to build a 600-megawatt coal-fired plant in Rogers City, although the company hasn’t given the project a green light to begin construction.

Starting to have doubts about the Rogers City plant. Right now supply is exceeding demand, and Wolverine would have a very hard time justifying spending the money on a project that would only increase costs to customers.

The low cost of natural gas factors into this as well. Consumers will only say that the Bay County coal plant is "on hold" - and perhaps these other sources can start to fill the need if and when demand picks up again.

RPS of 2008, take a bow.

There is a good reason why wind farms and other nontraditional energy projects are getting traction right now, despite economic uncertainty, according to Judy Palnau, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission.

She said many of the new energy projects popping up in the state, like Next Era’s and Dow Corning’s, are the result of Public Act 295 of 2008 that requires Michigan to generate 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.

Now imagine if it were higher...