Approximately 108 employees will be displaced in the Muskegon area if the B.C. Cobb Generating Plant closes its doors at that time, McKee said.
Eleven of those employees are from the Tri-Cities area, he said — and double that amount from the Tri-Cities area work in general plant support roles, such as McKee.
The J.R. Whiting Generating Complex near Luna Pier and the Karn/Weadock Generating Complex near Bay City are also scheduled to be put in mothballs.
McKee said that three of the five generators at the Cobb plant were converted to natural gas, but have been out of operation for many years. Power would be obtained from some of the company’s more efficient plants before the Cobb generators would be put into use, he said.
The final two coal-burning generators at the plant would be shut down in conjunction with the stricter air regulations, soon to be put in place, McKee said.
Consumers Energy announced the upcoming closure of the plants as part an updated long-range plan that also canceled the construction of an 830-megawatt clean coal plant near Bay City.
The reasoning behind this is the same as it was when the utility deferred construction of the plant in May 2010, company officials said. That was “primarily reduced customer demand for electricity due to the recession and slow economic recovery, surplus generating capacity in the Midwest market, and lower natural gas prices linked to expanded shale gas supplies,” company officials said in a statement.
Basically, it comes down to the fact that it would be too costly to upgrade the coal plant to meet current and pending clean air regulations, McKee said.
In the meantime, the company plans to continue upgrading its major coal-burning facilities such as the Campbell plant in Port Sheldon Township.
Muskegon Mayor Stephen Warmington said the city expects to lose 10 percent of its tax base sometime in 2014, when Consumers Energy intends to start the process of shutting down the Cobb plant.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.
WZZM-TV contributed to this story.