(09/23/13) - The life of a coal-burning plant in Bay County may be extended
Originally, plants 7 and 8 at the Consumers Energy Karn-Weadock complex were supposed to close in April of 2015.
The energy-generating facility sits along the Saginaw Bay, in Hampton Township.
The Department of Environmentally Quality and another agency have given Consumers the green light to keep those coal-burning plants running an extra year. Now they have until April 2016.
"We've been given the flexibility to continue our operations at Weadock units 7 and 8 to April 1, 2016," said Mary Kulis, Consumers Energy spokesperson.
Good news for the township, but Kulis isn't sure yet whether Consumers will use that extra time.
"Ultimately it really hinges on whatever is in the best interest of the customer, and we're going to continue to monitor different things. If it makes sense to operate it until April 1, 2016 then we will do so," she said.
No timetable has been given for when a final decision will be made.
It's important to note this move only impacts Weadock plants 7 and 8, which are coal-fired. Karn plants 1 and 2, which are also coal-fired, and Karn 3 and 4, which are run on gas and oil, are not impacted.
"Consumers is investing close to $200 - $400 million in the Karn's 1, 2, 3 and 4, so they've been good neighbors and they're going to be around with that kind of an investment," said Tom Foret, Hampton Township supervisor.
Together, the six plants create enough energy to power 1.3 million homes and employee 350 people.
"It's a big asset to us," Foret said.
A company spokesperson says plans to shut-down plants 7 and 8 started a few years ago, adding that employees have been kept up to date on the move. Those two plants have been generating power since 1955 and 1958.
While environmental upgrades are being made at the other plants, Consumers made the decision not to do more work on the two that will eventually close.
"With the pending environmental regulations, it didn't make sense for us to update some of our older generating plants, with the environmental technology. It was very costly and it just wasn't in the best interest of our customers to do so," Kulis said.
Hampton Township officials have known this portion of the Karn-Weadock plant would be closing for a few years. They did make plans to offset the tax revenue they'd lose.
"We went for a public safety millage because we knew this was going to happen four, five years ago and we kind of planned for it," Foret said.
The millage passed, easily.
Foret says it will offset the roughly $135,000 in tax base the township is expected to lose in the two years after Weadock plants 7 and 8 close.
"It hurts, but we will survive," Foret said.
Foret is happy to hear that tax loss could be pushed back a year.
For a better look at how the Karn-Weadock plant works, click HERE.
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