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Consumers Energy Cancels New Coal Plant

JACKSON -- Consumers Energy said Friday it canceled a proposed 830-megawatt coal-fired power plant project in Essexville, near Bay City, and expects to shutter seven smaller coal units by 2015.

Consumers had delayed the proposed plant near Bay City in May 2010.

It cited the same factors in canceling the project that it did back in May -- lower demand for electricity due to the weak recovery, a glut of power-generating capacity in the Midwest, and lower natural gas prices that make competing gas-fired plants cheaper to operate.

The company, a unit of CMS Energy Corp., said it would invest $1.6 billion to reduce emissions at five other plants. The investments and the expected closures of seven smaller plants will reduce Consumers' power plant emissions by 90 percent, it said.

The company said it won't invest in environmental equipment at the smaller plants, at which it expects to suspend operations by 2015. Consumers said, however, that it could change plans depending on market conditions and federal and state environmental regulations. The units scheduled for closure are three at the J.R. Whiting Generating Complex near Luna Pier, two at the B.C. Cobb Generating Plant in Muskegon, and two at the Karn-Weadock Generating Complex near Bay City.

Environmentalists praised the utility's decision.

Consumers Energy began construction last month on its first wind farm, the Lake Winds Energy Park, in Mason County. That 100-megawatt complex is scheduled to begin serving customers late in 2012. It also is developing the 150-megawatt Cross Winds Energy Park in Tuscola County.  That wind farm is scheduled to enter service late in 2015.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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