After gathering information during 25 community engagement public meetings in 2022, we are funding an independent study in the first half of 2023 that will help determine the future of our 13 river hydro facilities.
The 30- to 40-year federal licenses to operate the dams we own and operate on the Muskegon, Manistee and Au Sable rivers are set to expire beginning in 2034. We also own a dam on the Kalamazoo River with a license that expires in 2040 and a dam on the Grand River with a license that expires in 2044.
“Consumers Energy is committed to being a good neighbor and working transparently as we make informed decisions to reach the best outcomes for our customers, stakeholders and the communities we serve,” said Norm Kapala, vice president of generation operations.
We are considering four options for each of the13 dams:
- Relicensing the river hydro dam and continue generating electricity
- Selling the dam to a third party
- Removing the dam
- Replacing the dam with an alternative structure that maintains some level of reservoir
“We know our dams play significant roles in Michigan, especially in the economies of the communities near our facilities, and we share with local leaders and others the desire to quantify those impacts before developing long term strategies regarding the future of those facilities,” Kapala added.
Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a Lansing-based nonpartisan consulting firm that specializes in public policy research, is performing the economic study. PSC has longstanding expertise in studying energy and the environment, economic research, public engagement, and group facilitation. The firm conducted the 2022 community river hydro in-person listening sessions and will build on the feedback from those meetings for this current work.
“A common theme we heard during our meetings with communities and stakeholders is to know more about how much of the economic activity in the communities around our dams are associated with the hydro facilities,” said Kapala. “We have listened to community members and we are working on this economic contribution study to answer those questions to better understand those impacts.”
PSC will engage the local communities to identify and review available data to ensure the studies find all contributing factors that influence the local economies around our dams. They will produce individual studies for each dam to better understand the unique economic contributions – including additional data on how the hydro facilities and their associated reservoirs contribute to the recreational and tax bases of the communities – of all 13 hydro sites.
We make decisions based on the Triple Bottom Line that ensures benefits for people, the planet and Michigan’s prosperity. Factors we are considering in determining the future for our dams include regulatory compliance, safety, community impacts, operating costs and environmental impacts.
For more information about the process to determine the future of our river hydro facilities, visit ConsumersEnergy.com/HydroFuture