Is Consumers Energy of Michigan planning to eliminate their coal and nuclear powered energy plants in Michigan?

The answer is yes.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is reporting about Consumer Energy’s power plan for Michigan, the plan sets their course to be completely off of fossil based fuel by 2040.  They do appear to keep their natural gas-powered generating capacity but as stated in their plan they do intend on reducing it.

Why should you be concerned about a plan that does not fully take effect for more than 20 years, because Consumers needs to start investing in their renewable portfolio today and divesting their fossil based portfolio in the near future.  These types of plans take years to implement and cannot be changed on a dime.

The biggest concern of critics of this plan is the production of baseload power.  Baseload power according to Penn State are power sources:

at the plants that operate continuously to meet the minimum level of power demand 24/7. Base load plants are usually large-scale and are key components of an efficient electric grid. Base load plants produce power at a constant rate and are not designed to respond to peak demands or emergencies.

We will speak about Consumers Energy’s plan with one of those people concerned of risk their plan poses, Jason Hayes, the director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy today at 10:06 on the Live with Renk show.

Jason is quoted in the article stating:

Consumers’ planning documents take pains to present this as something reasonable and prudent, but what they’re doing is, at its core, risky and untried…They’re moving from a system that has been deliberately developed with an overcapacity of baseload and peaking generation resources and moving to a primarily non-dispatchable system.

A “Dispatchable power” refers to generation sources that can be turned on or off, or have their power output adjusted – as the amount of electricity required changes.

  • Dispatchable power sources include
  • natural gas
  • nuclear
  • coal
  • and hydroelectric.

By contrast wind and solar are not “dispatchable”. They are not “dispatchable” because they can only produce electricity when the wind is blowing, or the sun is shining.

When it comes to solar power Consumers Energy estimates that it will install solar arrays that cover between 25,000 to 35,000 acres in Michigan by 2040.

So let us look at how many day of the year the sun shines on the great state of Michigan.  On average, it is sunny or partially sunny in:

  • Detroit 49% of the year
  • Flint 47% of the year
  • Grand Rapids 44% of the year
  • and Lansing 48% of the year

I understand Consumers planning out that far, it takes a lot of time and resources to move to a different platform, my concern is how they can assure the citizens of Michigan and their clients that there will be constant source of energy like today.  We see states today like California that experience brownouts due to their in ability to produce enough energy for the states need.  This lack of production is not due only to renewable sources, they have had this problem for quite a while now.

If states like California have this energy production issue now without moving mainly to renewable sources, I can only imagine the frequency of brownouts when they do rely more on renewable source.

Only time will tell, I just hope that these energy companies are not being driven by the political climate but instead driven by science and need.

More From 1240 WJIM AM