MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Consumers Energy will offer limited guided tours of the coal-fired B.C. Cobb plant in Muskegon. The free tours take place Saturday, January 9, from 8:40 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. Tours start at the former Masonic Temple building on Clay Avenue. A trolley will run to and from the plant about every 50 minutes.
The plant has generated electricity since 1948. It will close for good on April 15. Demolition for most of the facility could take place by the end of 2018. "We do not want it to linger," said Consumers Energy Senior Public Information Director Roger Morgenstern,
Demolition is likely to start early next year with removal of the 650-foot tall smokestack that is visible from around the city of Muskegon.
A large sub-station adjacent to the plant is not being removed, and large transmission lines over the causeway and US-31 will also stay.
It's been nearly two decades since a tour was last made available. The company is not allowing guests to take backpacks or cameras. The site is also a weapons-free zone.
Consumers Energy is by far Muskegon County's top taxpayer, but the tax liability associated with the power plant is already shrinking, resulting in budget adjustments at the City of Muskegon and Muskegon County. The Cobb site is also subject to millages supporting Muskegon Community College, The Hackely District Library, The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District and Reeths-Puffer Schools. "We have worked to be very transparent and up front with all of our taxing jurisdictions," Morgenstern said.
The company reached an agreement with the city to reduce the plant's taxable value from $20 million last year to $11 million this year.
The company and economic leaders in the county are working to transition the property to a new use, with the most likely possibility as a shipping hub to serve the Great Lakes and the world.