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Consumers Energy final freighter delivery of coal to B.C. Cobb plant

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World Coal,

On Sunday 8 November, the final Great Lakes coal freighter arrived at the B.C. Cobb plant. The 1000 foot M/V James R. Barker docked at the plant late Sunday afternoon, following a ceremonial escort across Muskegon Lake and a hearty welcome by Muskegon area residents lining the Muskegon Channel as the Interlake Steamship Company vessel completed its two-and-a-half day voyage from Superior, Wisc.

The freighter delivered approximately 59 000 t of low-sulfur Western US coal, which will provide the Cobb plant enough fuel to continue operations until shutdown in mid-April 2016. The Cobb Plant has been providing affordable electricity to Michigan residents since 1948.

"This is a bittersweet occasion for Consumers Energy and the hundreds of current and retired B.C. Cobb employees who have worked safely to provide power to our customers," said Timothy Sparks, the company's Vice President of energy supply operations. "Today we mark nearly 70 years of safe fuel deliveries but also look to a promising future for the Port of Muskegon."

Among the local leaders in attendance was Terry Sabo, chairman of the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners. Sabo is among a group of leaders from the public and private sector, including Consumers Energy, who have researched and promoted efforts the past several years to increase commercial shipping into Muskegon Lake.

"Great Lakes shipping has been a Muskegon economic staple for generations, even before the Cobb Plant was built," Sabo said. "We're working with Consumers Energy and others to make sure the Port of Muskegon continues to grow and thrive for many years to come."

Sparks said that the event highlighted the importance of a Michigan-first energy policy. The two units at Cobb are among nine generating units closing in Michigan in 2016. A total of 25 Michigan generating facilities are expected to close by 2020 because of environmental regulations.

"To ensure all Michiganders continue having access to reliable electricity, it's essential that our Legislature adopts a Michigan-first energy policy this year," Sparks said, adding he's pleased by passage last week of two bills in the House Energy Committee.

Meanwhile, Consumers Energy is planning for closure of the Cobb plant and five other coal-fired generating units.

Edited from press release by

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