“We just know it’s the right thing to do,” said Ava Kiblawi, a Chemical Engineer in Environmental Services who is overseeing Consumers Energy’s water reduction efforts.
When it comes to caring for Michigan’s water supply, we are watching every drop. Hundreds of billions of gallons of water are used to produce power at our electric generating plants. But in 2016, we reduced our water intensity by 17 percent at our electric generating plants. We’re aiming for a 20 percent reduction by 2018. Reaching that goal would save more than 100 billion gallons of water per year.
Our coal-fired generating plants, located at or near the Great Lakes, tap water as a source for cooling. How the process works:
- Our plants burn coal to produce steam that pushes turbines and generates electricity.
- Water pumped in from Lake Michigan then cools the steam, condensing it back to water form and the cycle starts again.
- Virtually all the cooling water, slightly warmed from the process, is released back to the lake.
In 2012, we needed slightly more than 32,000 gallons of water for every megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated.
Closing seven of our oldest coal-fired units at the Cobb, Whiting and Weadock sites has significantly reduced the amount of water we’re using to produce electricity. Now, we’re aiming for a 20 percent reduction, which translates to just under 26,000 gallons per MWh.
“We would not be where we are as a company without the Great Lakes and Michigan’s water resources,” Kiblawi said. “But just because water is plentiful in Michigan, it doesn’t mean we can pump all we want. It’s still about being a responsible user.”
Learn more about Consumers Energy’s sustainability efforts at ConsumersEnergy.com/sustainability.