Consumers Energy

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Consumers Energy is is a subsidiary of CMS Energy and a public utility that provides electricity to 1.6 million of Michigan's 10 million residents. It serves customers in 61 counties.[1]

Existing Coal Plants

Plant State Year(s) Built Capacity
Karn Generating Plant MI 1959, 1961 544 MW
Campbell Generating Plant MI 1962, 1967, 1980 1,540 MW
Cobb Generating Plant MI 1956, 1957 313 MW
Whiting Generating Plant MI 1952, 1953 345 MW
Weadock Generating Plant MI 1955, 1958 313 MW

Other Consumers Energy Generating Plants

Consumers Energy also operates and co-owns (with Detroit Edison) the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant, near Ludington, Michigan.[2] Another generating facility previously owned by Consumers Energy (but still serving Consumers Energy's system) is the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station, five miles south of South Haven.

Coal unit closures

CE proposes retiring 958MW in exchange for Karn/Weadock Generating Complex Expansion

In December 2009, Consumers Energy said its Cobb Generating Plant — Michigan’s oldest operating coal-fired plant — is one of several facilities being considered for closure. No final determination has been made on which plants will be shut down. The company plans to close five to seven of its oldest plants by 2017, officials announced. That’s when the utility expects to have a new, $2 billion-plus plant constructed and operating, the Karn/Weadock Generating Complex Expansion, an 830-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Bay County’s Hampton Township. In return, Consumers has agreed to “retire” up to 958 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity from seven of the company’s oldest existing coal plants.[3]

Proposed Coal Plants

  • Consumers Energy's plans to construct a $1.5 billion, 750-megawatt coal-fired Midland Power Plant in Midland, Michigan was suspended by LS Power Group.[4]
  • In September 2009 Michigan Public Service Commission staff found that Consumers Energy's proposed 930 MW power plant near Bay City, the Karn/Weadock Generating Complex Expansion, may not be needed until 2022, five years later than the utility planned, because the “long-term capacity need is unjustified without the explicit retirement of existing coal capacity in its baseload generation fleet.” The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is now considering environmental permits for the plant.[5] In late December 2009, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the "permit to install" for the facility.[6]

Consumers Energy cancels Karn/Weadock expansion, announces retirement of seven aging coal units, and develops two new wind farms

On December 2, 2011, Consumers Energy announced that is was cancelling the proposed 800 megawatt Karn/Weadock Generating Complex Expansion because of "reduced customer demand for electricity due to the recession and slow economic recovery, surplus generating capacity in the Midwest market, and lower natural gas prices linked to expanded shale gas supplies." In addition, the company announced that it was suspending operations by the end of 2014 at seven existing generating units, included two units at the Whiting Generating Plant, two units at the Cobb Generating Plant, and two at the Karn Weadock Generating Complex. The company reported that it began construction in November 2011 of its first wind farm, the 100 MW Lake Winds Energy Park, in Mason County. Consumers Energy is also developing the 150 MW Cross Winds Energy Park in Tuscola County.[7]


The company was founded in 1886 as Commonwealth Power Company by W.A. Foote, originally tasked to install electric lighting in downtown Jackson. After a series of acquisitions and mergers involving other local electric, gas, and trolley companies which were properties of W.A. Foote, as well as Anton G. Hodenpyl and H. D. Walbridge, the company incorporated as Consumers Power Company in 1910 in Maine, and became part of the utility holding conglomerate Commonwealth and Southern, which held utilities in 10 other states.[8]

Commonwealth and Southern dissolved in 1946, leaving Consumers Power (and all other utility holdings) an independent company. In 1968, the company reincorporated in Michigan.[9]

In 1997, the name of the company was changed to Consumers Energy. The current Consumers Energy is renamed from Consumers Power Company incorporated in Michigan in 1968. The 1968 Consumers Power is the successor to a previous company incorporated in Maine in 1910 with the name Consumers Power Company. The 1910 Consumers Power, in turn, was the successor to W. A. Foote's Commonwealth Power Company established in 1886.[10]

Consumers operated the Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Charlevoix from 1962 to 1997 and built the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station Nuclear Plant near South Haven in 1971, which is still in service.[11]

System Information

Because of utility regulatory changes, Consumers had to give up control of its transmission system; it opted instead to sell the system to the Michigan Electric Transmission Company (METC), currently an ITC Holdings company (which also owns Detroit Edison's transmission system under the ITC Transmission brand.) Consumers Energy has an electric generating capacity of 6,000 megawatts.[12]

Articles and Resources


  1. "Consumers Energy Electric Operation" Consumers Energy Website, August 2009.
  2. "Consumers Energy Electric Operation" Consumers Energy Website, August 2009.
  3. Federico Martinez, "Consumers Energy may close Muskegon's B.C. Cobb coal-fired plant" The Muskegon Chronicle, Dec. 29, 2009.
  4. LS suspends development of Mich. coal power plant Reuters staff,, 1 May 2009
  5. Amy Lane,"State Public Service Commission report: Consumers coal plant near Bay City not needed until 2022" Crain's Detroit Business, September 8, 2009
  6. Air permit OK’d for power plant near Bay City"Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, December 29, 2009"
  7. "Consumers Energy announces cancellation of proposed new coal plant, continued substantial investments in major coal units, anticipated suspension of operation of smaller units in 2015," Consumers Energy press release, December 2, 2011
  8. "Consumers Power Co." Harvard Business School Baker Library, August 2009.
  9. "Consumers Power Co." Harvard Business School Baker Library, August 2009.
  10. "Consumers Power Co." Harvard Business School Baker Library, August 2009.
  11. "Consumers Power Co." Harvard Business School Baker Library, August 2009.
  12. "Consumers Energy Electric Operation" Consumers Energy Website, August 2009.

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