Environmental Risk Transfer Services For The Closure And Reclamation Of Consumers Energy Ash Ponds


As a part of post-closure regulation needs and sustainability objectives, Consumers Energy (Consumers) needed to cost-effectively reclaim the ash ponds at their retired B.C. Cobb Generating Facility site along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.


Charah Solutions approached Consumers with an innovative and cost-effective Environmental Risk Transfer (ERT) proposal to provide reclamation of the ponds and sustainable repurposing of the site while also implementing beneficial use practices for another Consumers’ licensed landfill project.

A comprehensive one-stop ERT solution where Charah Solutions took full ownership of the site was offered to effectively manage the environmental and construction aspects of safely closing the ponds and enhancing the site, while lowering the cost for Consumers and its customers. Charah Solutions’ turnkey ERT services involved property acquisition, site reclamation/redevelopment as well as responsibility for the environmental liabilities plus permitting and compliance with state and federal regulations.

As part of this agreement, Charah Solutions, through its subsidiary Muskegon Environmental Redevelopment Group, LLC (MERG), took ownership of the former B.C. Cobb Generating Facility ash ponds and the coal combustion residuals (CCR) materials are being excavated and beneficially used as necessary fill material. Approximately 650,000 cubic yards of excavated CCR materials are being beneficially used as necessary fill material in Consumers’ licensed J.C. Weadock Landfill, located at the former J.C. Weadock Generating Station site. Both B.C. Cobb Generating Facility and J.C. Weadock Generating Station were retired by Consumers in April 2016. Approximately 75% to 85% of the ash is transported by a fleet of 150 covered, high-sided rail cars, with the remainder transported by covered trucks.

Charah Solutions ERT services represent an innovative solution designed to meet the evolving and increasingly complex needs of utility partners. Many customers like Consumers are experiencing an increased need to retire and decommission older, un-utilized, or less economically viable generating assets while maximizing the value of the assets and improving the environment. By offering one-stop services, Charah Solutions effectively manages the environmental aspects and safely closes and enhances the site for the benefit of the community, all while substantially lowering the cost for the utility.


Leveraging this innovative, turnkey approach to ERT and beneficially using the ash material, Charah Solutions is reclaiming the ponds resulting in cost savings and reduced environmental risk for Consumers and its customers while protecting and enhancing the environment for the Muskegon Lake community.

Upon completion of the project, the B.C. Cobb ash ponds, totaling 62.8 acres, will be sustainably repurposed for the benefit of the watershed. By reusing the ash as necessary fill material it can be recycled, conserving approximately 650,000 cubic yards of virgin materials that would otherwise be required. State approval of the final pond closure is targeted as soon as early 2022, in advance of the Federal CCR Rule compliance deadline which requires pond closure by March 2023.

As a sustainability leader in utility services for over 30 years, Charah Solutions is dedicated to preserving natural resources in an environmentally conscious manner through projects like this with Consumers. Sustainability is a Charah Solutions Core Value, and the company focuses its business on developing innovative solutions to complex environmental issues for the betterment of the planet, the communities in which it operates and its customers.