Consumers pauses plans for new coal plant


The utility Consumers Energy says it's shelving plans to build a state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant near Bay City. Consumers officials say they over-estimated customer demand for more electricity.

Consumers officials say the recession lasted longer than they expected and the recovery has been weaker. Also, the cost of natural gas is expected to plummet as energy companies develop new ways to tap into previously unreachable gas reserves. That would make gas generation a better deal for utilities and their customers than coal.

The company will assess the future of existing plants that would have been retired if the new cleaner-burning Bay City plant opened as planned in 2017. But a Consumers spokesman says that also means Michigan won't see the benefits of reduced emissions. Nevertheless, environmentalists are cheering the decision, saying they hope Consumers and other utilities will turn instead to emissions-free alternative fuels.