Under a settlement agreement announced today by the Sierra Club, the Lansing Board of Water and Light (LBWL) in Michigan will stop burning fossil fuels at its coal-fired Erickson Generating Station by December 2025 and commit to specific clean energy investments.
According to the group, the agreement settles claims of Clean Air Act violations at LBWL’s Erickson and Eckert generating stations in Lansing. The agreement also makes enforceable LBWL’s previously announced plans to retire the Eckert plant by December 2020. In a lawsuit filed in 2015, the Sierra Club claimed LBWL did not act to correct more than 3,500 self-reported violations of the federal Clean Air Act at the utility’s Erickson and Eckert coal plants.
Along with the confirmed retirements, LBWL has now committed to adding at least 106 MW of new wind and solar energy generation by Dec. 31, 2020, says the Sierra Club.
In addition, LBWL is now required to achieve a combined renewable energy/energy efficiency goal of 30% of its total retail sales by Dec. 31, 2020, and 35% by Dec. 31, 2025. The utility will also establish a sustainability program – with funding of at least $300,000 – designed to promote energy waste reduction or pollution prevention in Lansing and the surrounding community.
“Today’s announcement is a positive step toward prioritizing Michigan’s clean air and water, as well as protecting public health in the Lansing area,” says Regina Strong, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Michigan. “We have an opportunity now to avoid environmental and health risks in a way we did not have when coal-burning power was the only option.
“Over the past five years, we have seen large-scale solar and wind outperform coal, and now we are seeing renewable energy become even more competitive,” she continues. “We are pleased to reach this agreement with LBWL, which will help meet Mayor Virg Bernero’s commitment to climate action consistent with the Paris climate accord. This will go a long way in moving Lansing area residents toward the clean energy future they deserve – one that puts public health first.”
The Erickson plant retirement commitment accounts for the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign’s 257th announced coal plant closure since 2010, the group notes.