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Updated December 15, 2009, 10:01 pm

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D.E. Karn/J.C. Weadock Generating Complex

7 Coal Plants Retire

As part of our continued effort to offer sustainable energy to Michigan, we retired our seven oldest coal plants at Cobb, Weadock and Whiting in April 2016. Read More.

D.E. Karn/J.C. Weadock Generating Complex“Besides maintaining a wonderful bird rehabilitation facility and walleye rearing pond, our 2,400-acre site is also home to foxes, deer, eagles and other birds of prey."

“We’re proud to be more than just energy providers. We’re also environmental stewards."
“But when it comes to producing power, we generate enough to serve about 1.3 million people or the cities of Bay City, Saginaw, Midland and Flint combined.”

 — Karn/Weadock Employees

Safety First

Safety is our top priority — for our employees and our customers. That’s why we’ve made safety an integral part of our vision for all of our generating plants throughout Michigan.

Our employees work safely in the plant to help keep themselves and our communities safe. Here are some key ways we put safety first in everything we do:

  • Employees attend regular safety meetings, follow established safety policies and procedures and are provided with and required to wear hard hats, safety glasses, earplugs and other personal protective equipment
  • Employees receive regular training on important health, safety and environmental issues that include working in confined spaces and first aid-CPR

Employees bring their award-winning safety knowledge and background into numerous volunteer activities in the communities we serve. They volunteer as firefighters, paramedics, auxiliary police, educators, Red Cross helpers, coaches, scouting leaders and more.

Be sure to visit the Awards and Milestones pages for each plant.

About the Plant

The Karn/Weadock generating complex sits at the mouth of the Saginaw River along the Saginaw Bay shoreline in Hampton Township, Mich. The Weadock plant began generating electricity in 1940. It is named after John C. Weadock, a Bay City attorney and a founding father of the company. He was company president from 1941-51 and director from 1934-38 and 1940-65. The Karn plant began serving Michigan customers in 1959 and is named for Dan E. Karn, a former company president (1951-60) and director (1933-67).

Location: Hampton Township, Mich., at the mouth of the Saginaw River on the Saginaw Bay shoreline, about 21 miles north of Saginaw.

Employees: 370

Safety: The complex has won national and company awards for safe operation. Employees place great value on being safe at work. They believe that coming home safely at the end of the day is the best gift they can give their families.

Plant Site: The 2,400-acre site includes a raptor rehabilitation pen and 285 acres of wetland.

Electric Generating Capacity: 2,101 megawatts, enough to meet the electric needs of more than 1.3 million people.

Fuel: Four units burn a blend of western and eastern coal, while two units run on a blend of natural gas and fuel oil. Low-sulfur western coal makes its way from Wyoming and Montana, while eastern coal is delivered to the plant from a variety of states. The complex uses more than 2 million tons of coal per year, .57 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 4.4 million gallons of fuel oil each year.

Generating Units: Weadock coal-fueled units 7 and 8 began operating in 1955 and 1958, respectively. Karn coal-fueled units 1 and 2 began operating in 1959 and 1961, respectively. Karn units 3 and 4, both fueled by natural gas and oil, began operating in 1975 and 1977, respectively. The coal units are considered baseload units because they generally operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Economic Impact: Karn/Weadock employees and their families contribute significantly to the local economy each year. In addition, Consumers Energy pays about $11 million per year in property taxes to local government.

How It Works

Diagram of how Consumers Energy generates electricity from coal


The Karn/Weadock generating complex is Consumers Energy’s largest power production site and consists of three separate plants:  the 310-megawatt coal-fueled Weadock plant; the 511-megawatt coal-fueled Karn 1 and 2 plant; and the 1,276-megawatt natural gas- and oil-fueled Karn 3 and 4 plant.

Together, the six Karn/Weadock units can generate up to 2,101 megawatts, enough to meet the electric needs of more than 1.3 million people.

Power production at Karn Weadock begins with delivery of coal by vessel and rail.  The two oil and gas units are considered peakers, because they are used during periods of high customer demand.

To produce electricity, water is piped through miles of steel tubes while the burning fuel heats it to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As water boils to steam, it turns the fan blades of turbines at 3,600 revolutions per minute. The turbines are connected to generators, causing them to spin and produce electricity.

The plant has won several national and company awards for safe operation.

Environmental Commitment

Employees at the Karn/Weadock generating complex have worked to protect and preserve the environment including the wildlife near the plant since the plant began producing electricity 70 years ago.

The 2400-acre site includes a raptor rehabilitation center, butterfly garden and nature trail.  About 140 bird species live on or visit the site, including bald eagles, egrets, great blue herons, snowy owls (wintering away from the arctic tundra), swallows and purple martins. Deer, fox, rabbits, woodchucks, beavers and muskrats can also be found on the Karn/Weadock site.

The raptor flight pen project was built in November 1993 to rehabilitate injured birds received from throughout the state. The flight pen is the largest rehabilitation pen in the state, measuring nearly 250 feet.  It allows the injured birds to exercise and recover until they are ready to return to their natural environment. The pen allows the birds to hunt on their own so they will not become dependent upon or accustomed to human interference.

In a joint effort to protect bald eagle habitat in the Saginaw Bay Watershed, plant employees and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service installed a bald eagle nesting platform on the north side of the Karn/Weadock site.

First certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council in 1991, the plant earned a special designation from the Council in 2010 as a certified Lands for Learning Program. With this certification, Karn/Weadock plans to offer additional site tours to educate visitors about indigenous animals and birds on-site as well as habitat enhancements
In addition to these habitats, employees continually monitor and analyze the air, water and soil to ensure the complex meets state and federal requirements.


2004 — The Karn plant received the Brick Award from the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, in recognition of successful completion of a $120 million nitrogen oxide emissions reduction project. The award acknowledges the contribution a business makes to the community when it expands, renovates or improves their facility.

2005 — The Karn plant received the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce's Development Award in recognition of positive environmental and economic impact of a $120 million nitrogen oxide emissions reduction project at Karn units 1 and 2.

August 2006 — Karn/Weadock received its Clean Corporate Citizen (C3) designation from MDEQ.
September 2006 – Karn/Weadock received recertification from the Wildlife Habitat Council as a certified Wildlilfe Habitat.

July 2010 – Karn/Weadock is named the Large Employer of Veterans Award by the American Legion Department of Michigan.  Of the plant’s 370 employees, 23 percent are veterans.
October 2010 – Karn/Weadock received certification by the Wildlife Habitat Council as a certified Corporate Lands for Learning Program.

Community Support

Besides participating in an annual United Way fundraising campaign, employees and retirees are active in many organizations in the communities where they live and work.

The Consumers Energy Foundation provides Volunteer Investment Program (VIP) grants that can be used to support these worthwhile activities.

Since 1992, the foundation has awarded VIP grants totaling $1.5 million to more than 3,200 organizations on behalf of nearly 4,900 employees and retirees.

To learn more about employee and retiree volunteer efforts, please visit the Consumers Energy Foundation.


1937: Construction begins on the Weadock plant.

1940: Weadock unit 1 begins operating.

1955: Weadock unit 7 begins operating.

1958: Weadock unit 8 begins operating.

1959: Karn unit 1 begins operating.

1961: Karn unit 2 begins operating.

1968: Rail spur installed, enabling Karn/Weadock to receive coal by trains in addition to boat delivery.

1975: Karn unit 3 begins operating.

1977: Karn unit 4 begins operating.

1980: Weadock units 1-6 retired.

1990: Walleye rearing pond first used on Karn/Weadock site, raising 5,000 three-inch fingerlings planted in Saginaw Bay.

1991: Karn/Weadock certified by Wildlife Habitat Council as a wildlife habitat site.

2001: Consumers Energy begins construction of a $120 million selective catalytic reduction (SCR) emissions reduction project at Karn, units 1 and 2, to sharply reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions.

2003: First SCR placed in service on Karn unit 2.

2004: Second SCR placed in service on Karn unit 1. SCRs successfully reduce emissions of NOx by 83 percent.

2006: Karn Unit 2 completed a record generating run of 243 consecutive days of continuous operation on October 21, exceeding the previous longest run of 216 days set in 1970.

2008: Karn/Weadock employees and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service installed a bald eagle nesting platform on the north side of the Karn/Weadock property to encourage nesting near the mouth of the Saginaw River.
2009: Consumers Energy begins construction of  $180 million pulse jet fabric filter structures to reduce mercury and particulate matter emissions.

2009: Consumers Energy completes $21 million seawall and freighter dock replacement project.

2010: Karn/Weadock receives special designation by the Wildlife Habitat Council as a certified Corporate Lands for Learning Program.