Old coal plant converted to renewable biomass shutting down

In October, DTE Energy Services said it was closing its wood-burning Stoneman biomass generating ­station for economic reasons, including lower natural gas prices and higher transportation costs for the biomass fuel.

The plant provides renewable power to Dairyland Power Cooperative, a generation and transmission ­cooperative serving Jo-Carroll Energy an Elizabeth, Ill. based ­distribution co-op.

The small 40-megawatt plant employed 27 workers, and may be closed by the end of the year pending approval from the regional transmission system operator.

Michigan-based DTE purchased the former Dairyland coal-fired plant in 2008 and spent two years ­converting it to burn biomass — ­primarily wood construction debris. The plant also burned residue from forestry and tree trimming operations, railroad ties, demolition waste and sawdust.

The 40-megawatt output was enough for 28,000 homes. It met about 3 percent of Dairyland’s total capacity, but 28 percent of the co-op’s renewable energy portfolio.

John McWilliams, Senior Resource Planning Engineer for Dairyland said the co-op will continue to look for cost effective renewable energy sources. He said the G&T signed an agreement in April with Eagle Creek Renewable Energy for 10 megawatts of hydroelectric power, and is seeking proposals for up to 25 megawatts of solar power.