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Consumers Energy hopes to sell its 13 hydroelectric dams in Michigan

Consumers Energy hydroelectric dams
Consumers Energy
Location of Consumers Energy's 13 hydroelectric dams

Consumers Energy hopes to find a buyer for its 13 hydroelectric dams. The utility says the dams are expensive to maintain and create very little electricity.

The dams are scattered across the lower Peninsula, from five on the Au Sable River to one each on the Kalamazoo and Muskegon Rivers.

Norm Kapala is vice president of generation operations for the utility. He says successful bidders will have to show "they have the financial backing to continue to operate and maintain the facilities, that they have a good track record of compliance and environmental stewardship as we would expect."

The utility says combined, the dams produce a miniscule amount of the utility's electricity - about 1% - but the cost of that electricity is nine times that of Consumers' other generation sources, including wind, solar, and gas.

If Consumers Energy fails to find an acceptable bidder or bidders, it could still choose to relicense the dams and continue to own and operate them, or it could remove some or all of the dams.

However, that last option could come at the expense of people who have built homes overlooking lakes or ponds that were created by the dams.

Consumers Energy is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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