People like to talk trash at our company. Like how we can reduce the amount of waste going to landfills by 35%. Starting from a 2017 baseline, our five year goal is to send 10,800 tons less waste to landfills every year which includes reducing hazardous waste by 10%.
We belong to a number of industry groups that help fuel and hone ideas to reduce waste and conserve. Our involvement with the Electric Power Research Institute Energy Sustainability Interest Group provides valuable benchmarking and quality data. Leadership from some 42 utility companies participates, working to establish industry standards. The Michigan Recycling Coalition, which champions effective resource use and recovery, is another key organization for us.
Fly ash and bottom ash are produced when coal is used to make electricity. It’s a type of waste referred to in the industry as coal combustion residuals, or CCRs. We are responsible for the safe collection and disposal of CCRs. CCRs are collected and placed in a disposal facility that is licensed and inspected by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
Disposal facilities have an engineering plan, groundwater monitoring program, closure plan, and financial assurance that has been reviewed and approved by the MDEQ. Plant staff conduct daily inspections of the disposal facility and third-party professional engineers inspect all facilities for safety and stability annually. Additionally, MDEQ makes quarterly visits to conduct compliance inspections.
The fly ash handling systems at each of the five coal-generating facilities were converted to dry systems by 2009, greatly reducing wastewater, which contributes to greater protection of the environment. We are committed to handling fly and bottom ash safely and recycling for use in concrete and other materials instead of landfilling when possible.
Upon closure of CCR disposal facilities, Consumers Energy will receive certification from the MDEQ that the facility has completed the necessary requirements from the approved closure plans. A 30-year post-closure care period will then be initiated, including inspecting the final cover, maintaining the vegetation on the cover, and completing noted maintenance. Groundwater monitoring programs will continue during this post-closure care period to ensure compliance with water quality standards.
In addition to state regulations, CCRs are regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) - In compliance with this law, here you can find data related to the operation and maintenance of our CCR disposal facilities.