Michigan Denies Permit for New Coal-Fired Power Plant
LANSING, Michigan, May 21, 2010 (ENS) - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment today denied Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative's an air quality permit for a new 600 megawatt coal-fired power plant. The power plant was proposed for Rogers City in northern Michigan on the shore of Lake Huron.

The state's decision is based on findings of the Michigan Public Service Commission, which said the company failed to demonstrate the plant was needed to meet future supply needs.

The Public Service Commission staff also determined that building the proposed plant would increase electricity rates paid by average residential customers to 20.7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

This 59.2 percent rate increase would cost the average residential customer $76.95 more each month. Only Hawaii has a higher average kilowatt-hour rate.

Governor Jennifer Granholm said the proposed power plant is unnecessary and far too expensive.

An artist's rendition of the proposed Wolverine power plant on the Lake Huron shore (Image courtesy Wolverine)

"We are protecting hundreds of thousands of Michigan homeowners, businesses, and farmers from paying a whopping increase in their electric bills, which would have been among the highest in the nation," said Governor Granholm.

"The cost of doing business in Michigan would have skyrocketed, and despite the short-term gain from its construction, this project would have been a job-killer and a roadblock in our efforts to bring new economic development investments to Michigan," the governor said.

Granholm said that in addition to protecting ratepayers from being gouged with higher electric bills, the decision protects Michigan's environment from the pollution an unnecessary plant fueled by coke and coal would produce.

Last year, Granholm asked energy experts at the Michigan Public Service Commission to analyze whether there was a need for the proposed Wolverine facility and if there were alternative methods of meeting their customer demand.

The governor also asked the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to consider the Michigan Public Service Commission analysis as part of its air permit review process.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment determined that Wolverine had not adequately demonstrated the inability to secure long-term power supply purchase arrangements, such as buying power from an existing power plant, to meet their member needs.

After battling the proposed power plant for more than four years, local residents and groups declared victory today.

"We in Rogers City are profoundly grateful for this decision," said Jean Veselenak, a resident of Rogers City. "The cost of Wolverine coal would have meant diminished health, diminished economy, and great injury to our environment which sustains our lives. Wolverine must now put its head to the real thing; wind, solar; and new technology that already exists in Michigan. Our families deserve these jobs and their health after long promises."

Wolverine Power will pursue plans to build a wind farm at Rogers City.

Headquartered in Cadillac, Michigan, Wolverine is a wholesale provider of energy to six electric cooperatives that serve rural areas and small communities.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a draft air permit for the Wolverine power plant at Rogers City on September 23, 2008. Calling it a "clean energy" project, Wolverine had planned to use circulating fluidized bed technology to generate power at the proposed plant.

Fluidized beds suspend solid fuels such as coal on upward-blowing jets of air during the combustion process for more effective chemical reactions and heat transfer. This technology also reduces the amount of sulfur oxides emitted.

Regardless, the Public Service Commission's analysis showed there are alternative methods that would allow Wolverine to adequately supply its customers at a fraction of the cost of constructing a new coal-fired power plant.

"With this decision, Governor Granholm reinforced Michigan's clean energy jobs future by moving away from coal and supporting today's job creators - renewable energy and energy efficiency," said Anne Woiwode, state director of Sierra Club of Michigan. "Coal is an outdated, dirty and dangerous way to generate power and it is a dead end for Michigan jobs."

"Today, the State of Michigan echoed what we've been saying for years: we don't need to waste millions on dirty, unnecessary coal plants," said Faith Bugel, senior attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Center. "This is the right decision for Michigan's ratepayers, for Michigan's workers and Michigan's environment."

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