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Northern Michigan dams under review by Consumers Energy

The Hodenpyl Dam, six miles southwest of Mesick, is one of 13 power-generating sites under review by Consumers Energy. (Photo: Consumers Energy public slide show)
Consumers Energy public slide show
Consumers Energy is headquartered in Jackson, Mich., and operates power-producing dams across the state, including eight in northern Michigan. (Photo: Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Consumers Energy is considering the future of 13 hydro-electric dams in Michigan. More than half of them are along the Manistee and Au Sable rivers.

The Jackson-based utility also operates power-producing dams along the Muskegon, Grand, and Kalamazoo rivers.

The federal hydro-dam licenses will start expiring in 2034.

Terry Dedoes, a Consumers spokesman, said the dams produce about one percent of the utility’s electricity. But he adds it’s 30 times more expensive to produce power from river hydro-dams than wind turbines.

Dedoes said the utility is paying for an independent economic study of the dams, which will include taking input from the communities that have grown up around the lakes and reservoirs that have been created behind the dams.

“We want to be transparent with the work we’re doing,” said Dedoes. “And letting these communities know that we are looking at different possibilities for the future of these dams.”

Options include renewing the federal licenses to operate the dams, selling them, replacing them or removing them completely.

Dedoes admits some communities may be “surprised” that removing their local dam might be an option.

While the current federal licenses will remain in place for another decade, Dedoes said the re-licensing process will take several years.

Consumers Energy is one of Michigan Radio’s corporate sponsors.
Copyright 2022 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting. During his two and a half decades in broadcasting, Steve has won numerous awards, including accolades from the Associated Press and Radio and Television News Directors Association. Away from the broadcast booth, Steve is an avid reader and movie fanatic. Q&A