CMS files certificate application for 700-MW gas plant

A CMS Energy (NYSE:CMS) subsidiary has applied for a certificate of necessity from the Michigan Public Service Commission for its proposed 700-MW natural gas power plant in Thetford, Mich.

The new Thetford plant, planned for an existing power generating site, is the centerpiece of the company’s plans to build more gas and retire many of its old coal units.

“This $750 million project will create 600 construction jobs, about 30 operating and support jobs, and ongoing economic benefits for the regional I-75 corridor and Genesee County,” Consumers Energy CEO John Russell said in a statement on July 12.

The review process for the filing is expected to take nine months. The CMS unit has already filed for approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. In the DEQ filing, the company seeks approval for a new gas plant that could eventually be expanded to 1,400 MW.

Consumers Energy’s Vice President of Energy Supply Operations Tim Sparks said the adding gas capacity is needed due to the scheduled suspension of operation of Consumers Energy’s seven smallest and oldest coal plants, which have a total capacity of about 950 MW.

“When operational in 2017, this plant will produce about 50% less carbon emissions than the coal plants it will replace. This switch in generation will help us reach our greenhouse gas reduction target of 20% by 2025,” Sparks said.

Consumers Energy owns the 230-acre Thetford Township site, which features access to high-volume natural gas delivery and high-voltage power transmission lines. The site already is home to nine smaller natural gas fired combustion turbine units.

The current project schedule calls for construction to begin in 2014 and for the new combined cycle power plant to begin serving Consumers Energy’s electric customers in 2017. At 700 MW, the plant would be able to serve a community of about 445,000.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.