The power plant at the far east end of Muskegon Lake is just a few months from closing for good, and the ship today delivered the last load of coal to the plant.
The bulk carrier J.R. Barker was spotted just north of the Muskegon channel around 2:30 p.m. Inside the ship was 58,000 tons of coal.
That load and coal already staged at the B.C. Cobb plant will be sufficient fuel to power two generators until April 2016.
Then on April 15, the generators will be turned off and the Cobb will close.
A decade from now, the 300-acre site will likely no longer include the stack and the five-story building beside it.
By shutting down the two coal-fired generators, Consumer's Energy company moves closer to meeting federal mandates. Maintaining a coal power plant of this size does not make economic sense, especially as federal environmental standards become more stringent.
Consumers is also closing coal units on the east side of the state around the same time. Other generating facilities will pick up the slack.
The company's board of directors will decide later this year just how fast the building and equipment will be sold and removed. The 75 workers will be re-positioned within the company.
The site is on a prime waterfront location and has a 1,000-foot long dock that could become a key economic asset for the region.
Since 1949, the Cobb has been a big part of Muskegon. And with the plant's closing, there will be fewer big lake freighters entering this port.