Consumers Energy Announces Retirement of Karn Coal-fired Power Plant

Earthjustice and Sierra Club see signs of a cleaner energy future for Consumers Energy


Valerie Holford, Earthjustice, (202) 365-5336


Ricky Junquera, Sierra club, (617) 599-7048

Today, Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe announced the retirement of the company’s Karn coal-burning power plant by 2023. The Karn plant emits nearly 3 million tons of carbon emissions per year. Consumers is slated to submit its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which will include the Karn retirement, to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) at the end of the week. According to Consumers’ press release issued today, that IRP will propose adding 5,000 MWs of solar in the 2020s, along with increased wind, battery storage, and efficiency.

The Karn Generating Complex is located near Bay City in Michigan.

“Coal is becoming less economically viable every day. Consumers Energy’s prudent decision to retire the Karn coal plant recognizes that reality.” said Shannon Fisk, Managing Attorney for Earthjustice’s Coal Program. “Fossil fuels like coal have too many risks and too few benefits to have a long-term place in our nation’s energy sector. We hope that this announcement will be accompanied by a real effort by Consumers and the state to provide a just transition to Karn employees and the surrounding community so that all will benefit as we move to clean, reliable, low-cost energy.”

Just last month, Consumers Energy and DTE announced a non-binding agreement to achieve 50 percent combined renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2030.

“This is great news for the people of Michigan. Consumers Energy is taking a step in the right direction by setting a retirement date for the Karn coal-fired power plant. It is way past time for this antiquated technology and dirty fossil fuel to go,” said Regina Strong, Michigan Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “We’ve heard Patti Poppe talk about being forward-thinking, and this announcement represents a positive move towards a clean energy future. The job is not done. We will continue to organize Consumers’ customers to ensure that workers and the community around the Karn plant are taken care of. We will also continue organize until all Consumers customers can be free of fossil fuels, with the retirement of the Campbell coal-fired power plant on Lake Michigan.”

Under Michigan law, Consumers is required to file a 15-year energy plan with the state by Friday. Consumers will still need to determine what to do with its largest polluter, the JH Campbell coal-burning plant in West Olive, MI. JH Campbell is the third largest source of carbon pollution in Michigan, after the DTE Monroe and Belle River plants, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data. Sierra Club and Earthjustice intend to carefully evaluate that filing, and to actively engage in the PSC proceeding regarding the proposed plan.

The Karn retirement accounts for the 269th coal plant retired or announced to be retired nationwide since the Beyond Coal Campaign began in 2010.

The Karn/Weadock coal-powered generating complex.
The Karn/Weadock coal-powered generating complex. (Ken Lund / CC BY 2.0)

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