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Updated December 15, 2009, 10:01 pm

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Zeeland Generating Station

Aerial View of the Zeeland Generating Facility“We continue to show our ability to provide power reliably whenever it’s needed in Michigan.”

“Safety is personal.”

“We take pride in being an active member in the Zeeland community.”

- Zeeland Generating Station 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 actively participate in stretching and other wellness activities to avoid strains, sprains and other injuries

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.

About the Plant

The Zeeland Generating Station is located on a 30-acre site in the city of Zeeland. The first phase of the plant was completed in 2001 and the second phase in 2002. Consumers Energy purchased the facility in 2007, making it the newest addition to the company’s fleet of generating plants.

Zeeland employees and their families contribute to the local economy each year.    Contributions are made to schools, recreation centers, libraries, and local nonprofit charities and more.  In addition, Consumers Energy pays about $6.8 million a year in property taxes on the Zeeland Generating Station to local government. Consumers Energy is the largest single taxpayer in the city of Zeeland.

Location:  In the city of Zeeland 

Employees:  22

Safety:  Safety is the top priority for employees.  Wellness activities, including stretching, are used to help avoid sprains and strains and help promote overall health and safety of the employees. Safety is personal. Employees believe coming home safely at the end of the day is the best gift they can give their families.

Plant Site:  A 30-acre site located in an industrial area of the city of Zeeland. Map  

Electric Generating Capacity:  930 megawatts, enough to power a community of about 800,000 people.

Fuel:  Natural gas that is transported via 16-inch diameter pipe to the site.  The natural gas comes from Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Generating Units:  Two combustion turbines that are capable of producing up to 360 megawatts in 24 minutes. Two combustion turbines with complementary heat recovery steam generators and one steam turbine that can produce up to 575 megawatts.

How it Works

Natural Gas Combined-Cycle Plant


The Zeeland Generating Station began operation in 2001. The site consists of one steam turbine and four combustion turbines, which use natural gas for a fuel source. The site can generate up to 930 megawatts, enough electricity to serve a community of about 800,000 people.

Two of the four combustion turbines are capable of producing up to 360 megawatts in only 24 minutes.  These units are considered “peakers,” because they can produce electricity quickly and are used during periods of peak customer demand. 

The site also has two combustion turbines with complementary heat recovery steam generators and one steam turbine that can produce up to 575 megawatts.   These units are considered “cycling” units, and also are used during periods of high customer demand. They require longer startup times and generally operate for longer periods of time.

The peaking units are simple cycle units, and the cycling units are combined cycle units.  The difference is the treatment of the exhaust gas.  In a combined cycle unit, hot exhaust gas is used to produce steam through a heat recovery steam generator. In a simple cycle unit, the exhaust gases go directly to the plant’s stack.

Combustion turbines work on the same principle as a jet engine.  Large volumes of cool air are brought in to the compressor, which uses rows of blades to compress the air and raise the potential energy.  The air then is mixed with fuel in the combustion zone, which provides for high temperature, high-energy airflow.  The hot air then passes through turbine blades causing the turbine blades to rotate.  In the case of a jet engine, the airflow is used for thrust to move the plane.  In a combustion turbine, the airflow is used to turn a turbine that is coupled to a generator to make electricity.

The combustion turbine’s relatively simple technology enables the plant to respond quickly to the daily, weekly and seasonal highs and lows of Michigan’s energy demand. The plant also saves customers money by enabling Consumers Energy to avoid the expensive spot market when customer demand exceeds the capacity of the company’s baseload plants.

Environmental Commitment

Natural gas combustion and the technology used in two of the combustion turbines allow for significant power production with low nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions.   Selective catalytic reduction also is utilized on two units to reduce nitrogen oxide levels further.

Employees continually monitor and analyze the air, water and soil at the plant to ensure the plant meets all state and federal requirements.

Zeeland Generating Station employees maintain an active recycling program at the plant to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills.

Community Support

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

Zeeland Generating Station employees have adopted a section of Interstate 196 between Zeeland and Hudsonville through the state sponsored Adopt-A-Highway program.  The plant also has been a sponsor for the city of Holland Tulip Time Festival since 2002.  Schools, recreation centers, libraries, and local charities also are supported by the plant and its employees.

The Consumers Energy Foundation provides Volunteer Investment Program (VIP) grants that may 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 Consumers Energy Foundation.


2001:  Phase 1 construction is completed.  Units 1A and 1B, two combustion turbines in simple cycle operation are placed into service.

2002:  Phase 2 construction is completed.  Units 2A, 2B, and 2C, combustion turbines in combined cycle operation and one steam turbine are placed into service.

2007:  Consumers Energy purchases the facility to meet the current and future needs of its 1.8 million electric customers.

2009:  Construction complete on freeze protection enhancement to Units 2A, 2B, and 2C, allowing for improved plant reliability in cold weather.