ALLEGAN, Mich. — There is uncertainty about the destiny of an Allegan County dam, leaving homeowners with lakefront properties scrambling about what the future holds.
“Look around. If this goes away it’s going to really devastate our community even further than people that live at the lake, businesses, townships,” said Carole Catherine, lakefront homeowner and Lake Allegan Association member.
Consumers Energy said as part of discussing the future of hydroelectric power in Michigan, they’re now analyzing the dams they own. There are 13 dams in the state of Michigan that Consumers Energy owns and their licenses are expiring in the next 12 to 22 years.
One of those dams is the Calkins Bridge Dam in Lake Allegan.
News Channel 3 spoke to homeowners that have lakefront properties there and are opposed to one of the options Consumers is considering because it’ll significantly reduce the value of their homes.
“The impact is right now if you look around the lake, home sales have stopped as soon as this announcement was made. People have been unable to sell their homes,” said Tim Catherine, lakefront homeowner and Lake Allegan Association member.
Tim and Carole Catherine said Consumers Energy’s announcement came as a total surprise.
“The concern and real impact on our value from Consumers weighing their choices has really kept us up at night,” said Tim.
The Catherine’s purchased their home in 2017 and have always wanted to live on a lake.
“Purchasing on the lake is a significant investment and it was an intentional investment on our part,” said Tim.
Don and Stacey Harbour live on the south part of the lake and said there’s a lot of environmental issues and economic impacts at stake, including concerns for wildlife and the loss of rich history.
“We want to see the lake preserved. The lake is what drew us here,” said Don Harbour, homeowner and Lake Allegan Association member.
Consumers Energy said removal of the Calkins Bridge Dam is not set in stone, and no decision has been made.
“I want to be very clear about this point. The removal option is just one option that is being considered,” said Josh Paciorek, a spokesperson for Consumers Energy.
“Our message is that we're listening to them, we are empathetic, and we are understanding of these communities concerns,” said Paciorek. “We’re doing what's best for the economy, doing what's best for the environment, doing what's best for Michigan’s people. That's going to be something that we pay really close attention to.”
Consumers Energy said they’ve finished community meetings and are also meeting with stakeholder groups to get their feedback on these options. They’ll present it to the top decision makers at Consumers Energy, evaluate it and develop a long-term strategy for the future of these dams in 2023.
“They talk about people, prosperity and the planet,” said Tim. “I would point them back to that and do they really believe that.”
Consumers Energy said no matter what decision ends up being chosen, it will be a “a very long process” until the Calkins Bridge Dam license expires in 2040.