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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dam removal price $99M, but they'll stay until 2034

http://www.mlive.com/news/chronicle/index.ssf?/base/news-11/1181141154196060.xml&coll=8

06/06/07 By Jeff Alexander [email protected]

Removing the three hydroelectric dams on the Muskegon River would cost $99 million, but don't expect it to happen anytime soon: The owner says the structures will remain in place through at least 2034.

Consumers Energy was required to study the cost of retiring or removing its 11 hydroelectric dams on the Muskegon, Manistee and AuSable rivers as part of a 1994 licensing agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Three of the utility's dams -- Croton, Hardy and Rogers -- are on the Muskegon River; eight others are on the Manistee and AuSable rivers.

Consumers officials announced Tuesday that they plan to keep operating all 11 of those dams through 2034, when the 40-year license expires, and likely beyond that date.

"Currently, Consumers has no plans to retire or remove any of those 11 dams," said William A. Schoenlein, Consumer's director of hydro generation. "Consumers Energy plans to own and operate the plants at least until the end of their current FERC licenses."

Dams are a source of clean power, provide recreational opportunities and generate property tax revenue for the communities where they are located, company officials said. But the structures also kill fish, block fish passage, increase water temperatures and decrease oxygen concentrations in rivers, according to state data.

The 11 hydroelectric dams account for just 1 percent of all electricity Consumers generates each year in Michigan, company officials said. Most of the utility's power is generated by coal-fired power plants.

"Dams are moneymakers for Consumers Energy," company spokesman Kelly Farr said.

Jim Schramm, the attorney for the Michigan Hydro Relicensing Coalition, said the Consumers dams do more harm than good.

"These dams are not producing green power," Schramm said. "The adverse impacts these dams have on rivers and fisheries far outweigh any positive impact from the electricity they generate."

Schramm said some of Consumers' dams that violate state water quality standards, including Croton and Hardy, may have to be removed in 2034 if the utility cannot figure out ways to lower water temperatures and increase oxygen concentrations downstream of the structures.

Gary Noble, executive director of the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, said it is too early to say that the Croton, Hardy and Rogers dams should remain in place beyond the year 2034.

"We're not going to sit by and let Consumers say 'let's keep the dams forever,' " Noble said.

"If society determines the dams are still of value and the benefits outweigh the negatives, then maybe the dams should remain in place," Noble said. "But to indicate now that the dams are not going to come out 27 years from now is premature."

Company officials said the dams are a "critical component" of the utility's renewable energy program. Dams are considered a clean source of electricity because they do not generate greenhouse gases.

But in addition to killing fish and altering water temperatures, Consumers' dams divide the rivers where they are located into shorter, ecologically dysfunctional units, according to ecologists.

Tearing out all 11 Consumers Energy dams on the Muskegon, Manistee and AuSable rivers would cost $284 million. Removing huge quantities of sediment trapped behind the dams would account for half the removal costs, Consumer officials said.

Consumers officials said the utility opposes the establishment of a dam decommissioning fund to pay for future removal of the dams after 2034.

Schramm said Consumers' dam license with the federal government requires the utility to sock away money for future removal of all 11 dams.

FERC officials will have the final say on the fate of Consumers' dams beyond 2034 and the question of how much money the utility must set aside for future work on the structures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Utility replacing one of Hardy Dam's original turbines

A new hydroelectric turbine being installed this year at Hardy Dam on the Muskegon River will increase power production and help the environment.

The project marks the first time any of the facility's three turbines have been replaced since the dam was built in 1930, according to officials at Consumers Energy, which owns the facility. Company officials said replacing the turbine will cost several million dollars; they declined to provide a more specific figure.

http://blog.mlive.com/chronicle/2008/06/utility_replacing_hardy_dams_b.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Consumers working to keep river temps cooler

Consumers Energy officials are hoping air bubbles will help the Muskegon River keep its cool downstream of Croton Dam.

Consumers officials believe the solution lies in pumping compressed air into the bottom of Croton Pond during the hottest periods of summer. As the air bubbles rise, so does frigid water from 30-feet below the pond's surface; that water then is discharged downstream.

The system works like a super-sized version of the bubblers used in fish aquariums.

http://blog.mlive.com/chronicle/2008/10/consumers_working_to_keep_rive.html
 
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