Michigan OKs air permit for Consumers Energy gas plant

Consumers Energy owns the 230-acre Thetford Township site, which features access to high-volume natural gas delivery and high-voltage power transmission lines

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) approved an air permit for a 700 MW combined cycle natural gas power plant planned by Consumers Energy in Thetford Township in northern Genesee County.

Consumers Energy owns the 230-acre Thetford Township site, which features access to high-volume natural gas delivery and high-voltage power transmission lines.

The current project schedule calls for construction to begin in 2014 and for the new combined cycle power plant to begin serving Consumers Energy's electric customers in 2017. At 700 MW, the plant would be able to serve a community of about 445,000.

Approval of the air permit is a major step before Consumers Energy proceeds with the $750 million project. Additional steps include approval of a certificate of necessity filed July 12 with the Michigan Public Service Commission, and suitable financing.

The Thetford project is expected to create 600 construction jobs, about 30 operating and support jobs, and ongoing economic benefits for the regional I-75 corridor and Genesee County. Total direct and indirect benefits tied to the Thetford project is estimated at $320 million for the state and greater Genesee County, according to an independent, third-party economic impact study.

The certificate of necessity filing, allowed for under Michigan's energy reform law, provides Consumers Energy's comprehensive analysis for the natural gas plant. The review process for the filing is expected to take nine months.

When operational in 2017, the Thetford plant will produce about 50 percent less carbon emissions than seven older coal plants it will replace. This switch in generation will help Consumers Energy reach its greenhouse gas reduction target of 20 percent by 2025.

The Thetford project is expected to create 600 construction jobs, about 30 operating and support jobs, and ongoing economic benefits for the regional I-75 corridor and Genesee County. Total direct and indirect benefits tied to the Thetford project is estimated at $320 million for the state and greater Genesee County, according to an independent, third-party economic impact study.

The certificate of necessity filing, allowed for under Michigan's energy reform law, provides Consumers Energy's comprehensive analysis for the natural gas plant. The review process for the filing is expected to take nine months.

When operational in 2017, the Thetford plant will produce about 50 percent less carbon emissions than seven older coal plants it will replace. This switch in generation will help Consumers Energy reach its greenhouse gas reduction target of 20 percent by 2025.

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the main unit of CMS Energy (CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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