- To resolve alleged violations of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Air Act, Consumers Energy will spend $2 billion installing state-of-the-art pollution control devices for some of its coal plants, will shutter other plants or convert them to natural gas, will pay a $2.75 million civil penalty, and will spend at least $7.7 million on environmental projects to mitigate the violations’ harmful effects.
- Consumers, which is Michigan's biggest utility and provides natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million customers, allegedly violated federal Clean Air Act provisions in 2007 and 2008 by making modifications to five power plants that eluded permitting requirements and released sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in excess of EPA opacity and smoke density standards.
- Consumers will not be required to admit wrongdoing and will not ask the Michigan Public Service Commission for a rate increase to cover settlement costs because, a spokesperson said, the spending for pollution reductions was included in previous rate cases.
In addition to the $2 billion to be spent on power plant upgrades, Consumers must, over the next five years, spend:
- Up to $4 million on renewables, including wind, solar or anaerobic digestion
- Up to $3 million to replace gas and diesel-powered fleet vehicles with alternative fuel or compressed natural gas vehicles, retrofit fleet vehicles with reduced emissions capabilities, and build at least one charging station for electric or compressed natural gas vehicles
- Up to $2 million to buy, restore, and donate ecologically sensitive lands, watersheds, vegetation or forests in or near its service territory
- Up to $500,000 on energy efficiency retrofits for low-income residents and public schools
- Up to $500,000 for National Park Service restorations
A Natural Resources Defense Council Midwest program spokesperson said Consumers should emphasize energy efficiency and renewables investments over coal retrofits to be ready for coming EPA greenhouse gas reduction regulations.