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Updated December 15, 2009, 10:01 pm

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Combustion Turbine Stations

“We continue to show our ability to provide power reliably whenever it’s needed in Michigan”

“When we start a job, we do everything.  It changes everyday because one day we’re operating and the next we could be tearing the turbine apart”

“While the unit went through a significant outage in 2008, its strong reliability and performance are a direct result of our first rate team.”

- Combustion Turbine 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 Plants

The Combustion Turbine Stations are made up of 20 individual units at seven different stations.   The units and stations are spread throughout Michigan to provide peaking power and voltage support throughout the State. They are known as the Straits Peaker, Gaylord Generating Station, Campbell Peaker, Morrow Peakers, Whiting Peaker, and Thetford Generating Station.  The peaking stations were placed in service between 1967 and 1971.   They range in capacity from 17 MW to 37 MW.

Location: Located throughout the State of Michigan. The stations are located in Mackinaw City, Gaylord, West Olive, Comstock, Erie, Essexville, and Genesee. Map

Employees: 12

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 and employees believe that coming home safely at the end of the day is the best gift they can give their families.

Plant Site: Various. Most sites are small and located near the transmission system to provide for voltage support.

Electric Generating Capacity: 424 megawatts, enough to power a community of about 300,000 people.

Fuel: Natural Gas and Fuel Oil. Most units operate or have been converted to natural gas. Only two units remain in operation on fuel oil.   

Generating Units: Eleven combustion turbines

Economic Impact: Consumers Energy pays about $500,000 a year in property taxes on the Combustion Turbine Stations to local governments throughout Michigan. Combustion Turbine Station employees and their families contribute to the local economy each year. Those donations go to schools, recreation centers, libraries, and local charities.

How it Works

Natural Gas Simple Cycle Process



The Combustion Turbine Stations began operation as early as 1967, with the final units being placed in service in 1971.  Although over (or near) 40 years old the units have been maintained and continue to provide peak power and voltage support throughout Michigan.   Continuous and preventative maintenance will allow the units to operate out to 2030; the current operating plan. 

The units are unique in that they provide power or voltage support only when needed, thus the “peaking” designation.  This allows for operation when daily, weekly and seasonal highs occur in Michigan’s energy demand.   The units are also unique in that they can provide full power (capable of producing 424 megawatts) in a 10 minute period.  This is especially critical for voltage and grid support when disturbances occur on the transmission system.

Combustion turbines work on the same principle as a jet engine.  Large volumes of cool air are brought in to the compressor, which use rows of blades to compress the air and raise the potential energy.  The air is then mixed with fuel in the combustion zone, which provides for high temperature, high-energy air flow.  The hot air then passes through turbine blades causing the turbine blades to rotate.  In the case of a jet engine the air flow is used for thrust to move the plane.  In a combustion turbine the air flow is used to turn a turbine that is coupled up 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 allows for significant power production with little nitrogen oxide, or sulfur dioxide output. 

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

Community Support

Along with participating in annual United Way fundraising campaigns, 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.


2009: Record power production for 1 month of operation at Straits combustion turbine