MUSKEGON, Mich., Nov. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy today highlighted nearly 70 years of service and looked ahead to continued commercial shipping for the Port of Muskegon as the final Great Lakes coal freighter arrived at the B.C. Cobb Plant.
The 1,000 foot M/V James R. Barker docked at the plant late Sunday afternoon, following a ceremonial escort across Muskegon Lake and a hearty welcome by Muskegon area residents lining the Muskegon Channel as the Interlake Steamship Company vessel completed its two-and-a-half day voyage from Superior, Wisc.
The freighter delivered more than 59,000 tons of low-sulfur Western U.S. coal, which provides the Cobb Plant enough fuel to continue operations until its scheduled shutdown in mid-April 2016. The Cobb Plant has been providing reliable, affordable electricity to Michigan residents since 1948.
"This is a bittersweet occasion for Consumers Energy and the hundreds of current and retired B.C. Cobb employees who have worked safely to provide power to our customers," said Timothy Sparks, the company's vice president of energy supply operations.
"Today we mark nearly 70 years of safe fuel deliveries but also look to a promising future for the Port of Muskegon," Sparks said.
Among the local leaders in attendance was Terry Sabo, chairman of the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners. Sabo is among a group of leaders from the public and private sector, including Consumers Energy, who have researched and promoted efforts the past several years to increase commercial shipping into Muskegon Lake.
"Great Lakes shipping has been a Muskegon economic staple for generations, even before the Cobb Plant was built," Sabo said. "We're working with Consumers Energy and others to make sure the Port of Muskegon continues to grow and thrive for many years to come."
Sparks said today's event underscores the importance of a Michigan-first energy policy. The two units at Cobb are among nine generating units closing in Michigan in 2016. A total of 25 Michigan generating facilities are expected to close by 2020 because of environmental regulations.
"To ensure all Michiganders continue having access to reliable electricity, it's essential that our Legislature adopts a Michigan-first energy policy this year," Sparks said, adding he's pleased by passage last week of two bills in the House Energy Committee.
Meanwhile, Consumers Energy is planning for closure of the Cobb Plant and five other coal-powered generating units. It has reduced plant employment through attrition, and affected employees have been offered a job within Consumers Energy when the plants close.
Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
For more information about Consumers Energy, go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com.
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This news release contains "forward-looking statements." The forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause Consumers Energy's results to differ materially. All forward-looking statements should be considered in the context of the risk and other factors detailed from time to time in Consumers Energy's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
B.C. COBB PLANT FAST FACTS: Construction start: August 1946 First generating unit on line: October 1948 Plant dedication: April 1949 Current output: Up to 320 megawatts, enough to power a community of about 200,000 people Stack height: 650 feet What's in a name: Bernard Capen "Burt" Cobb, company president from 1915-1934.
SOURCE Consumers Energy