It Would Take 600 Wind Turbines to Replace One Closing U.P. Coal Plant

Natural gas the real replacement, but new Michigan wind mandate means more turbine towers coming, too

Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette

The coal-fired Presque Isle Power Plant is scheduled to be shut down by 2020 if regulators approve. The plant is located on 65 acres set back from the Lake Superior shore in Marquette.

The plan is to replace the plant’s generating capacity with two natural gas plants. It still must be approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission, according to Cathy Schulze, spokeswoman for Wisconsin Energy, which runs the Presque Isle facility.

The Sierra Club’s Michigan chapter didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. But in 2012, it said that Wisconsin Energy should dump coal and instead invest in clean renewable energy like wind and solar.

There are 883 wind turbines operating in Michigan, and the number is expected to rise. That’s because a new law passed at the end of 2016 increased an existing mandate that utilities get 10 percent of their power from renewable sources to 14 percent.

It would take about 600 wind turbines to generate the same 359 megawatts the Presque Isle plant can produce.

Stay Engaged

Receive our weekly emails!

But wind turbines only produce power intermittently — when the wind blows. In contrast, coal plants operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When periodic maintenance and other temporary shutdowns are included, a coal plant such as Presque Isle actually operates 80-90 percent of the time. That’s according to Jason Hayes, the director of environmental policy at Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy who also says that wind power needs a backup plan.

“In the very best locations, wind turbines only produce electricity 35 percent of the time. So we still wouldn’t have actually replaced the original plant,” Hayes said in an email. “In fact, we would need to keep that old plant, or build a new natural gas or nuclear plant to provide energy during the 65 percent of the time that wind can’t.”


Related Articles:

Isabella County Closer to Allowing 200 or More Wind Turbines

Group Opposing Wind Project Accused Of Misleading Public

Another Michigan Community Moving Toward Wind Farm Restrictions

In Picturesque U.P. Peninsula, It's Birds v. Wind Turbines

Proposed Wind Turbines In Michigan County Taller Than 'Mighty Mac'

Stay Engaged

Simply enter your email below to receive our weekly email:

Facebook
Twitter

Detroit Prep is a top-rated and economically and racially diverse charter school in the city. It's growth means it needs to move out from a church basement and into a new location. Nearby is a former Detroit Public Schools building, sitting empty for years. But, worried about competition, the public school district refused to sell. For years, district and local government officials in Detroit had worked to block public charter schools. They pushed legislation at the Michigan Capitol to hinder them, refused to sell to them, transferred surplus buildings from the district to the city government and imposed deed restrictions on property sales to private developers. All of it was aimed to hinder or even prevent charter school choice outside the confines of the Detroit school district.

Related Sites