The world can change drastically in a decade.
In 2012, Tik Tok didn’t exist and the Detroit Tigers competed in the World Series.
At Consumers Energy, we’d just started operating our first wind farm. We served our customers primarily with electricity generated by a fleet of aging, coal-fired power plants and we’d only begun experimenting with the potential of solar energy.
Today, we’re leaving coal behind completely and embracing renewable energy to lead Michigan’s clean energy transformation. With your help, we’re building a dramatically different energy landscape in which customers won’t have to choose between protecting the planet and their pocketbooks. We will do both while making sure our state has the reliable power it needs.
So, how will the sources of electricity for your home or business change by 2032?
Here are a few highlights of what’s coming in our Clean Energy Plan, the landmark blueprint we created with help from Michiganders.
Curtain falls on coal. We’ll retire all coal-fired plants by 2025. That’s 15 years sooner than previously planned and will make us one of the nation’s first energy companies to go coal-free. Ending the use of coal will improve air quality, cut greenhouse gas emissions and save water. We’re grateful for the decades of faithful service our coal plants provided to Michigan and value the employees who’ve operated the plants safely and efficiently for so many years. We’re committed to a just transition away from coal and to supporting the employees and communities impacted by closing plants in the Holland and Bay City regions. That means safely decommissioning and demolishing the plants, fulfilling our environmental responsibilities at the sites and helping local leaders imagine new economic possibilities.
Rise of renewables. Tapping clean, renewable fuel sources for electricity — especially solar power — is the key to building a brighter energy future for Michigan. Our plan forecasts renewable energy capacity levels of:
- 31 percent by 2025
- 43 percent by 2030
- 48 percent by 2035
We’re searching for tens of thousands of acres throughout Michigan and want to work with communities and landowners to identify locations for siting solar power plants. You can learn more and submit your land for consideration here.
That’s compared to about 14 percent in 2021. The rapid transition to clean, renewable sources includes the addition of nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar power. Our solar ramp-up has started and will continue throughout the 2020s.
Utility-scale solar projects capable of generating about 100 megawatts provide the best value for customers. They also require significant amounts of land — between five and 10 acres per megawatt of electricity — that’s flat, open and treeless with direct access to the sun and proximity to existing transmission infrastructure.
Our four wind farms, three Solar Gardens facilities and 13 hydroelectric dams – which have produced clean, renewable power since the earliest days of our 135-plus years serving Michigan – will continue to play key roles in replacing fossil fuels.
System reliability. Keeping power flowing the lights on is our most important job. That’s why will rely on three highly efficient natural gas-fired power plants in Covert, Zeeland and Jackson to supply reliable, on-demand electricity to meet Michigan’s energy needs when renewables and other sources are not available. Natural gas will comprise about 20 percent of our portfolio in a decade and gradually reduce to just 10 percent by 2040.
Additionally, we plan to purchase 700 megawatts of electric capacity from a variety of sources through a one-time request for proposal (RFP) starting in 2025.
Big battery on the lake. Considered a marvel of modern engineering when built on the shore of Lake Michigan in 1973, our Ludington Pumped Storage Plant uses elegantly simple technology to supply almost 2,000 megawatts of electric capacity. How does it work? Lake Michigan water is pumped uphill during periods of low electric demand and stored in a large reservoir. When electricity demand is high, the water is released from the upper reservoir through six pump turbines for power generation. After passing through the pump turbines, the water flows back into the lake. The historic plant, which famously played a key role in stabilizing the grid during a 2003 blackout impacting eight states, can hit peak production quickly to meet customer demand at a moment’s notice.
A smarter grid. Just as important as generating new electricity is finding ways to reduce the amount of power we use. Energy efficiency, demand response and emerging technologies such as grid modernization and battery storage will help us lower peak customer demand for electricity and deliver exactly what Michigan needs. We’re accelerating the addition of battery storage — which can help ensure reliability when the wind doesn’t blow, or the sun doesn’t shine — to provide 75 megawatts of storage capacity by 2027. And we’re building a cutting-edge electric distribution system employing the latest smart technology to reduce energy waste, cut greenhouse gas emissions, give customers more control of their bills and pave the way for more solar power and electric vehicles.
Learn more about our Clean Energy Plan and how it will benefit you in the coming decade.