December 2, 2023

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Consumers Energy wants to explore the possible sale of its 13 hydroelectric dams as the Michigan utility evaluates their future and cost efficiency.

The Jackson-based utility also said Wednesday in a release that it is considering all options to safely maintain the dam reservoirs — lakes created by the dams that provide economic and recreational opportunities for communities.

Those reservoirs are popular with anglers and boaters.

“But we also know that the current model for financing our hydroelectric power operations requires customers to pay more than nine times for the cost of energy compared to other sources of generation,” Consumers Energy’s Vice President of Generation Operations Norm Kapala said in a release.

The utility, which provides natural gas and electricity to customers in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, said it held a series of public meetings last year on the future of its dams. More meetings are expected later this summer.

Licenses for the company’s dams begin to expire in 11 years. Altogether, the dams produce less than 1% of energy used by its customers, Consumers Energy said.

Consumers Energy announced in 2021 that it would stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2025, relying instead on natural gas and renewable energy sources in a push to continue reducing its planet-warming carbon emissions. Under that plan, the utility said it would rely on clean sources for 90% of its energy output by 2040, including 8,000 megawatts of solar power.

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