More line worker jobs to open

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service
LANSING—Consumers Energy plans to hire more than 50 line workers to expand its electric line workforce next year to respond more effectively to emergencies. In addition, the company will hire up to 50 apprentice line workers annually for the next several years. “The goal is to hire more qualified workers to increase the workforce that responds to emergencies, enhances system reliability and restores electric service following storms,” Terry DeDoes, the public information director at Consumers Energy, said. According to DeDoes, the company currently has 700 line workers. Typically, line workers are on the job eight hours a day, and their work hours might increase during storms and other emergencies.

Coal-fired plants to close; wind and air to step up

BY NICK MCWHERTER
Capital News Service
LANSING- Wind farms and solar power are finally getting a big-scale opportunity to prove their worth. Consumers Energy announced last week the closure of seven coal-fired power plants in Michigan and cancelled construction of another to focus on clean energy. Consumers Energy provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents. Consumers will phase out three plants at the J.R. Whiting Generating Complex near Luna Pier, two at the B.C. Cobb Generating Plant in Muskegon and two at the Karn/Weadock Generating Complex near Bay City. Many of these coal-fired plants are outdated, including some built in the early 1950s, said Dan Bishop, public information officer for Consumers Energy.

Counties could lose millions of dollars from wind farm tax change

By SAM INGLOT
Capital News Service
LANSING—Michigan counties with wind farms stand to lose millions of dollars in property tax revenue due to a recent change in tax policy. Wind turbines are considered industrial personal property and taxed on their market value, said Rep. Kurt Damrow, R-Port Austin. Formerly each turbine’s tax liability was based on 100 percent of its value for the first year and depreciated over 15 years until bottoming out at 30 percent. But the State Tax Commission changed the tax code in early December so that turbines are now taxed at 80 percent on the first year and that drops to 30 percent within five years, Damrow said. The loss of tax revenue is significant in counties where large wind farms are under development.