Consumers Energy on Sept. 16 announced an agreement to purchase renewable energy from a new 100-MW wind farm to be built in Michigan’s Thumb, which is a peninsula of land just north of Detroit that juts up between Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.
Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE:CMS).
“We are committed to providing electricity that is affordable, reliable and sustainable, especially as seven of our coal plants are retired by April 15 next year,” said Tim Sparks, Consumers Energy’s vice president for energy supply operations. “This new agreement demonstrates that we will enter into contracts with qualified independent third parties when projects like this one contribute to keeping our business rates competitive and our residential bills affordable.”
Notable is that while the word “plants” is used, these are actually seven coal units at three plants: Cobb Units 4 and 5, Weadock Units 7 and 8, and Whiting Units 1, 2 and 3. Those retirements will come after one-year compliance extensions under the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
Consumers Energy has entered into a long-term agreement with Geronimo Energy to buy electricity from the Apple Blossom Wind Farm, located in Huron County, which the developer plans to put into construction next year. As part of this agreement, Consumers Energy will have a future option to purchase the wind farm.
When this project goes online, Consumers Energy will exceed Michigan’s renewable energy portfolio mandate for utilities, having already reached its target of obtaining 10% of its electricity from renewable sources a year ahead of schedule.
Currently, Consumers Energy purchases power from seven Michigan wind farms, and owns and operates two wind farms. The company opened the Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County in 2012 and the Cross Winds Energy Park in the Thumb last fall. Consumers Energy also is developing its first community solar program, called Solar Gardens, and could start generating electricity as early as next year from potential solar locations at Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University to supplement its portfolio of hydro, biomass, landfill gas and other renewable energy sources.
“Our company has a long history of making investments in wind, solar and other renewable energy sources on our own when they make sense for the Michigan residents we serve,” Sparks said. “Our agreement with Geronimo Energy shows that Consumers Energy is working toward a Michigan-first energy solution powered by renewable resources right here in our state.”
“We are pleased to enter into this agreement with Consumers Energy, a leading Michigan utility,” said Blake Nixon, Geronimo Energy’s President, in a Sept. 17 statement. “The project has taken an important step towards providing Consumers’ electric customers and the local community with positive economic impact.”
Geronimo Energy is a renewable energy development company headquartered in Edina, Minnesota. Geronimo has developed multiple operating wind farms and solar projects throughout the Midwest. Approximately 1,200 MW of wind projects and 200 MW of solar projects developed by Geronimo throughout the Midwest are either in operation or expected to be constructed by the end of 2016. Geronimo has a multi-gigawatt development pipeline of wind and solar projects in various stages of development throughoutthe United States.