CMS Energy utility to close ‘Classic 7’ coal plants in April

CMS Energy (NYSE:CMS) utility Consumers Energy said March 21 that it will retire its seven oldest coal plants in Michigan, the so-called “Classic Seven,” on April 15.

The facilities are capable of generating nearly 1,000 MW of electricity. Only one other utility in the nation is retiring a higher percentage of its coal generation than Consumers Energy, the CMS subsidiary said.

The move should shrink the utility’s carbon footprint by 25%; reduces air emissions by 40%, and results in a water use reduction of 40%. The move has been in the works for a long time.

The affected plants include:

•B.C. Cobb 4 and 5, Muskegon, 320 (MW);

•J.C.Weadock 7 and 8, Hampton Township (Bay County), 310 MW, and;

•J.R. Whiting 1, 2 and 3, Luna Pier, 328 MW.

“We honor the men and women that have worked at our Classic Seven coal plants, which have powered Michigan’s industrial growth, kept the lights on in our homes, and made amazing human and business contributions to their host communities,” said Dan Malone, senior vice president of energy resources for Consumers Energy.

 “We purchased the Jackson Gas Plant at one-quarter the cost of a new plant to replace the power from the Classic Seven and continue to invest in wind and other renewable energy sources. This ensures Consumers Energy has the power necessary to serve its customers affordably and reliably, with cleaner sources of energy,” said Malone. “However, significant concerns remain about the ability of out-of-state energy marketers to serve their customers in Michigan’s partially deregulated market. As Michigan and other Midwestern states shut down their coal plants, the surplus power on which these marketers rely to meet their customers’ needs will dry up,” he added.

“With two-thirds of our coal fleet shutting down, seven out of 12 coal plants, now is the time for Lansing policymakers to update Michigan’s energy law and ensure customers have reliable, affordable and sustainable power going forward,” said Malone.

Michigan State Utility Workers Council President Patrick Dillon also praised the workers at the coal plants that are being retired.


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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