Clearing the Air So You Can Breathe Easier

Take a deep breath and you know you’re in Michigan. The air is the cleanest it’s been in a generation. It’s easy to take it for granted. Not us. We know we can strive to do better. We have aggressive plans in place to further reduce emissions with new technology and alternative fuels. By 2020, we plan to reduce total sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 92%, nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions by 89%, mercury by 83% and particulate emissions by 98%. Our progress to date can be seen in the chart below.

Air Emission Reductions

Our plans are ambitious but we’re confident we’ll get there through a mix of innovative and proven methods. We’ve installed emission reducing technology, including spray dry absorbers (SDA) and dry-sorbent injection (DSI) to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) for the reduction of oxides of nitrogen and pulse jet fabric filters (PJFF) for the reduction of particulate matter, and switched our fuel sources to lower sulfur fuels to decrease SO2 emissions. We’re also planning to employ technology such as activated carbon injection (ACI) for the reduction of mercury. And we’re always digging for new ideas to make additional improvements.

Reducing Emissions by the Megawatt

To minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we’ve developed a voluntary, three-phase reduction target for carbon intensity ratio (CIR). CIR is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted through the production of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity. Working from a baseline of 2008, our goal is to have the plan fully implemented by 2025.

  • 5% reduction by 2015
  • 10% reduction by 2020
  • 20% reduction by 2025

An Ongoing Initiative with Many Stakeholders

Cleaning the air involves a lot of stakeholders. We listened to many of them in public forums as we gathered input to create our Integrated Resource Plan for Michigan’s energy future – a plan that will result in the total elimination of coal-fired generating plants by the year 2040. You can read about our plan to replace coal generation with renewables here.

We’re always thinking about new ways to reduce our emissions footprint. Here’s a list of key activities that are already underway:

  • Seven coal-fired power generating units were retired in 2016
  • The proposed retirement of coal-fired units Karn 1 and 2
  • A natural gas-fired plant has been added to our generating plant mix, which has a smaller carbon footprint than a coal-fired facility of the same size
  • Energy efficiency programs are gaining momentum statewide
  • More plug-in electric vehicles have been added to our fleets - Learn More
  • A compressed natural gas fueling station has been added and vehicles converted
  • Natural gas pipeline and storage infrastructure upgrades have been made and recognized with a Natural Gas Star Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Additional renewable energy sources should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 1 million tons annually by 2022

As part of a Consent Decree with the US EPA and the Department of Justice (Civil Action No. 14-13580, E.D. of Michigan), Consumers Energy is funding a wood burning appliance replacement program. Visit the Lower Peninsula of MI Woodstove Changeout Program website hosted by the American Lung Association for details.