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Consumers Energy closing Holland Area Coal Plant


walker

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 Me:

Raildudes dad, you're into the RR stuff, isn't it likely that CSX will be selling off the routes if they can through Grand Rapids in the next few years since they're losing all their money making coal hauling business with the Holland, Grand Haven, and Muskegon generating plants closed and the big Consumers Energy Port Sheldon plant scheduled to close maybe as early as 2025?  It might be an opportunity for MDOT or a smaller more open minded community private operator to take over and consider hosting some kind of commuter service along with maybe increased Amtrak frequency.  I'm sure it would have to be subsidized somehow.

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Raildudes dad response:

Current plan is to close 2 of 3 units at Port Sheldon in 2031 and the 3rd in 2040 unless the Sierra club and other groups force earlier dates. (Don't get me going on the stupidity of going to wind and solar over burning cleaned up coal - battery banks have no environmental impacts?????)

The smallest unit is a peaker plant burning eastern coal. Last year I was told, they did not receive 1 train of eastern coal. The largest unit is base load plant for the midwest power grid, it runs full load 24/7 . The last or 3rd unit varies with the load demand, always running but is "turned up or down" depending on the power demand in the grid. They currently receive about 3 -130 car trains every 2 days or so I was told. About 19,000 tons a day.

None of the potential buyers of the CSX lines are passenger friendly. I don't see any gov't agency stepping up to buy the corridors.  Look at MDOT's high speed corridor from Detroit to Chicago - billions of $$. We can't come up with the money to fix our roads so how will MDOT come up with the monies to buy the RR corridors.

Quoting this exchange I had with Raildudes Dad back early in 2020 in an off topic discussion in the Ada development topic about commuter rail.  I've added this comment as a new topic because I didn't want to clutter up the Ada development topic with something not at all directly related to Ada.

Today, surprisingly, Consumers Energy announced that they plan to close all of their coal burning plants by 2025 including the Campbell plant in Port Sheldon I was referring to above.  I guess they decided they can generate power from natural gas cheaper and with less trouble, and the sooner the better. 

DETROIT NEWS: consumers-energy-proposes-end-coal-use-by-2025

This is good news as far as  clean air goes (although this plant wasn't too bad compared to most other coal plants,) but closing it very might well have some unintended consequences as far as the viability of the CSX railroad in Grand Rapids and West Michigan is concerned as I believe this was their last big and profitable customer around here.   Since we don't make much anymore in the U.S.A. maybe this isn't as important as it once would have been but for manufacturing at least, not having a strong Class A railroad is sort of like not having a good commercial airport nearby.     

  

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The article says the consumer will save money. I'm calling BS to that statement.  If you believe that I have the proverbial bridge to sell you.

The greens don't like clean coal but are okay with flippen windmills  and solar farms littering the landscape . Mining metals for batteries is real green.  It's inmates in charge of the asylum's.

As for a friendlier rail owner for commuter rail, not likely. GRD3 and I plus a few others investigated Sparta to GR - GVSU campus a number of years ago.  At that time the owner of the rail from  Turner Ave north was friendly and was willing to talk.  However, today the line is owned by G&W and the hoops they would put up  will certainly kill any chances of it happening.  

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CSX is moving more towards interchanging with Short Lines (Tier 2 or 3 rail companies).  Essentially, CSX doesn't want to switch out factories or individual businesses -- they want the short lines to do that -- but they will haul the freight from city to city.  

CSX Grand Rapids Subdivision is well set up for that.  CSX can interchange with the G&W companies in GR and Holland, along with the shortline that comes up from Indiana and Kalamazoo (owned by Watco, I believe).  CSX has some active customers by the airport, in Alto, and by the Wyoming Yard; along with Padnos on the West Side.  I'm not aware of much additional traffic.  They could let G&W switch those customers out and just work out of Wyoming and Holland yard.

As someone already mentioned, CSX selling the track does not mean a more passenger rail-friendly operation would go in.  It's fun to imagine what a commuter rail system would look like, but it would be a tough sled to get it going.

 

Let's start by seeing 2x daily service to Chicago via Amtrak, or GR to Detroit service via Amtrak...

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On 6/25/2021 at 7:37 AM, Raildude's dad said:

The greens don't like clean coal but are okay with flippen windmills  and solar farms littering the landscape . Mining metals for batteries is real green.  It's inmates in charge of the asylum's.

There's no such thing as 100% green, and if you expect that you've missed the point. Windmills, solar farms, and battery storage is greener than any form of coal.

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Windmills are an awful addition to the landscape. I was reading an article on the disposal of windmill blades.  Hazardous to cut up and guess where they go? Solar panels are ok if they are on roofs but to "cover" fields with them is a waste of land. I prefer burning clean coal. We'll have to agree to disagree.

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Raildude's dad said:

Windmills are an awful addition to the landscape. 

I know what you mean.  That might be why so many people migrated here from the Netherlands.  They needed to get away from the windmills.

windmills.thumb.png.3f7f583ff3c1873a1c69ef0549f925b0.png

Edited by walker
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On 6/26/2021 at 7:06 PM, Raildude's dad said:

Windmills are an awful addition to the landscape. I was reading an article on the disposal of windmill blades.  Hazardous to cut up and guess where they go? Solar panels are ok if they are on roofs but to "cover" fields with them is a waste of land. I prefer burning clean coal. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Iron Man Reaction GIF

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Plus, windmills cause cancer. LOL. :tw_joy: 

I do have to agree with others, I like windmill farms.

I agree with Raildudes Dad that making batteries and the ultimate disposal of them when they are end of life is something that needs to be worked on now. I think people have kind of kicked that can down the road, but it'll be a big issue as EV's, etc. start meeting their end of life. I read that there is no money in recycling the chemicals / components, so the probability of batteries ending up in landfills is a big concern.

Joe

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On 6/26/2021 at 7:06 PM, Raildude's dad said:

Windmills are an awful addition to the landscape. I was reading an article on the disposal of windmill blades.  Hazardous to cut up and guess where they go? Solar panels are ok if they are on roofs but to "cover" fields with them is a waste of land. I prefer burning clean coal. We'll have to agree to disagree.

20210629_122425.thumb.jpg.889026b48198f4eed4917e37fd19f95a.jpg20210629_122459.thumb.jpg.3a8cc952d6df1ff6e7699d8ef45f8172.jpg

anti-windmill arguments don't hold (back) water any longer.  

Source:

(https://twitter.com/BrentToderian/status/1409509199634042884?s=03

(https://twitter.com/BrentToderian/status/1408690103078178816?s=03

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On 6/25/2021 at 4:37 AM, Raildude's dad said:

The article says the consumer will save money. I'm calling BS to that statement.  If you believe that I have the proverbial bridge to sell you.

The greens don't like clean coal but are okay with flippen windmills  and solar farms littering the landscape . Mining metals for batteries is real green.  It's inmates in charge of the asylum's.

As for a friendlier rail owner for commuter rail, not likely. GRD3 and I plus a few others investigated Sparta to GR - GVSU campus a number of years ago.  At that time the owner of the rail from  Turner Ave north was friendly and was willing to talk.  However, today the line is owned by G&W and the hoops they would put up  will certainly kill any chances of it happening.  

Not sure how you wouldn't believe they would save money long term? even if initial costs of implementation and/or maintenance is higher in wind or solar farms than a coal plant (which it may or may not be).......but the fuel is free so yes sad to see the trains go but think of the cost saving in not having to constantly mine something and the logistics of transporting it and just to one small plant in MI so overall impact of all these coal plants eventually shutting does will be huge savings at the expense of coal and rail jobs. Yes things have to be mined to make the "clean or green energy" products thats why I call it what it is, energy independence not clean energy. 

On the train note, are there any current tracks between GR and Muskegon? I know Muskegon is trying to revive the port and if theres any chance of a commuter rail doubtful a line to Sparta would make sense in the foreseeable future but perhaps Muskegon or Holland 

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1 hour ago, Matchetes said:

I think the windmills dotting the landscape are actually really cool. I live in the Detroit area now (I went to GVSU for school) and have at times deliberately driven up 127 to get up north even though 75 would be quicker just so that I could drive through the windmills north of Lansing. It's nice to see actual attempts at solving the climate crisis instead of endlessly talking about it.

Besides, we're reaching the point that renewable energy is cheaper than coal and gas. Capitalism will see this through even if the Gov't won't. You can't stop the changes that are coming anymore than stablemen could stop the automobile

I’ll join the “windmills are cool” brigade.  Recently drove past the collection near Ludington and it was a pretty awesome sight.  
Also, there really is no such thing as “clean coal” and any technology to make gains in that area immediately puts coal behind other energy sources for cost-effectiveness.

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On 6/29/2021 at 12:27 PM, grandrollerz said:

The top picture will likely be the bulk of the coastline in the next 30 years to some extent. Miami Beach has seen a 400% increase in sunny day flooding in the last decade. They're having to develop systems that keep the water out and they're raising their roads up. 

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On 6/28/2021 at 3:50 PM, joeDowntown said:

Plus, windmills cause cancer. LOL. :tw_joy: 

I do have to agree with others, I like windmill farms.

I agree with Raildudes Dad that making batteries and the ultimate disposal of them when they are end of life is something that needs to be worked on now. I think people have kind of kicked that can down the road, but it'll be a big issue as EV's, etc. start meeting their end of life. I read that there is no money in recycling the chemicals / components, so the probability of batteries ending up in landfills is a big concern.

Joe

AFAIK, used EV batteries see a second life as a battery storage solution. There are some efforts to make batteries without having to rely on cobalt, which will help. There's also efforts to make batteries with different materials altogether.

I know I'll take a bunch of disposed batteries over burnt coal, though.

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On 7/4/2021 at 10:30 AM, Allison Slater said:

AFAIK, used EV batteries see a second life as a battery storage solution. There are some efforts to make batteries without having to rely on cobalt, which will help. There's also efforts to make batteries with different materials altogether.

I know I'll take a bunch of disposed batteries over burnt coal, though.

Especially since so many coal burning plants are (or were) upwind from us. The EPA has consistently ranked our air quality as not great for the past 20+ years, especially in the summer months. Of course politicians blamed it on Wisconsin plants, but c'mon. With Holland's coal plant gone, Muskegon's coal plant gone, and now West Olive's coal plant going, I'm looking forward to better quality air. 

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