Jackson-based Consumers Energy has updated its renewable energy plan to reflect the latest market conditions and proposes lowering costs for electric customers by about $55 million per year. The utility has filed its updated plan for review by the Michigan Public Service Commission. 

The revised plan reflects changing economic conditions, improvements in wind turbine technology, acceleration of renewable energy projects, and the extension of the production tax credit. The updated plan calls for a reduction in a renewable energy surcharge applied to customer bills, subject to MPSC approval.

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The updated plan maintains Consumers Energy’s commitment to have 10 percent of the electricity it provides to customers by 2015 come from Michigan renewable sources, as required by the state’s renewable energy law. Consumers Energy already is Michigan’s leading supplier of renewable energy.  In 2010, about 5 percent of the electricity supplied to its 1.8 million customers came from renewable sources.

“Renewable energy is an important part of the company’s balanced resource portfolio, which includes a diverse set of fuel sources and energy efficiency to meet future electric needs,” said John Russell, Consumers Energy’s president and CEO. “The energy law has enabled investment in renewable energy in Michigan and the creation of jobs.  This revised renewable energy plan represents a significant reduction in costs to our customers.”

Consumers Energy’s plan calls for continued development of its 100-megawatt Lake Winds Energy Park in West Michigan’s Mason County. Lake Winds, the utility’s first wind park, is expected to begin operation in late 2012.  An economic impact study for this construction project estimates that the total direct and indirect economic benefits to Michigan would be $132 million. The number of construction jobs for the project is expected to peak at about 150 workers. 

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The utility will also continue development in the Thumb’s Tuscola County of its 150-megawatt Cross Winds Energy Park, scheduled for operation by late 2014. 

The updated plan includes renewable energy purchase agreements with independent developers, including several landfill-energy and wind projects, as well as one project demonstrating an innovative wind turbine design built in Saginaw. The MPSC previously approved these agreements.

Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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More at www.consumersenergy.com.