Consumers Energy is pleased to announce plans to build a major new natural gas-fired power plant in Genesee County to help meet the ongoing and future electricity needs of customers. The company will invest about $750 million to build this 700-megawatt power plant in Thetford Township, about 20 miles northeast of Flint.
Building this plant is consistent with the company’s Balanced Energy Initiative, a comprehensive plan to meet the energy needs of customers over the next 20 years. Vast new supplies of natural gas have pushed down prices and they are expected to stay low for the long term. That makes building this plant one of the most economical and environmentally responsible ways to provide value and electricity to our customers in the future.
It also helps us fulfill our promise to Michigan and our customers to provide families and businesses with the energy and energy infrastructure they need in the future. John Russell, the president and chief executive officer of Consumers Energy, said the estimated $750 million investment in the proposed plant would be in addition to the $6.5 billion that the company previously announced that it planned to invest in its utility operations through 2017.
“We’re making substantial investments to serve customers and improve the environment while aggressively managing our costs,” Russell said. “Even with this new power plant investment, we plan to hold our average base rate increases at or below the rate of inflation for the next five years.” He added that customers are seeing direct benefits, such as increased electric system reliability, from the investments.
Consumers Energy owns the 272-acre site, which is already home to nine smaller natural-gas fired combustion turbine units. There is also enough land to build a second, similar size unit at a later date, and we are evaluating this option. The Thetford site was selected primarily because high-volume gas pipelines and high-voltage power transmission lines necessary for the plant’s operation are readily accessible.
The plant would use state-of-the-art technology to help meet the future energy needs of customers in an environmentally responsible manner. The project is expected to create about 600 construction jobs, most of which will most likely be filled by members of skilled trade unions. Once the new plant is running, it will add about 30 operating jobs.
The company has taken the first step toward construction and filed an air permit application Dec. 14 with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The application is for a permit that covers two combined cycle units at the Thetford site, allowing us to build a second unit at a later date if we choose.
Once all approvals are obtained, construction on the first unit would start in 2015 and begin serving 1.8 million electric customers in 2017. At 700 megawatts the proposed plant would be able to serve a community of about 445,000 customers.
Russell also said that Michigan’s 2008 energy law put a comprehensive energy policy in place that gives Consumers Energy and other utilities the financial certainty and regulatory structure that they need to make major investments that create jobs and boost the state’s economy.
“Michigan has a forward-looking energy policy that is designed to provide families and businesses with the energy and the energy infrastructure they need in the future,” he said. “Our plan to invest $6.5 billion in our utility, plus another $750 million for this new power plant in Thetford Township, shows that policy is working.”