Terms of Settlement
The complex settlement involves several components including the installation of seasonal barrier nets to reduce future losses of fish at the facility, compensation for past damage to fish, and payments for unavoidable future losses that will occur. In exchange, the utilities may continue to operate the facility under a federal license that expires in 2019. The settlement agreement approved by the courts and a companion agreement approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) provided for (1) the transfer of utility-owned lands to the state for public use; (2) construction of Great Lakes public fishing access facilities at several locations; and (3) the creation of a trust (the Great Lakes Fishery Trust) to receive additional lands and cash payments to compensate for past and future fish losses. The parties to the settlement agreement were:
- Consumers Energy (formerly Consumers Power Company)
- Detroit Edison Company
- Attorney General for the State of Michigan (AG)
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources
- Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
- Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
- Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
- Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC)
- National Wildlife Federation (NWF)
The U.S. Department of the Interior was a party to the FERC license agreement and was named as a trustee in the state court settlement.
An initial compensation payment of $5 million and the transfer of 10,000 acres of Consumer Energy lands were used to establish the Great Lakes Fishery Trust. Approximately 7,000 acres were subsequently sold to the U.S. Forest Service for incorporation into the public lands of the Huron Manistee National Forest within the watersheds of the Au Sable, Muskegon, and Manistee rivers. The remaining properties transferred were sold in the open market with conservation easements retained by the GLFT for all waterfront properties. The assets from the sales were used to establish the funding for the GLFT’s mitigation project grants.
Under the settlement agreement the GLFT also receives annual payments from the utilities to compensate for fish losses that occur after the settlement through the FERC license which terminates in 2019. Under the terms of the agreement, Detroit Edison constructed new angler access facilities on its properties in Harbor Beach on Lake Huron, at Marysville on the St. Clair River, in the Delray neighborhood in Detroit on the Detroit River, and at Monroe on Lake Erie. Detroit Edison funds were also provided to improve the MDNR-owned sites that provide access to the St. Clair River.
Similarly, Consumers Energy provided funding for Lake Michigan fishing access improvements to the north and south piers in the City of Ludington and at its company-owned plant site at Port Sheldon. At Fruitland Township and at the villages of Montague and Pentwater, Consumers Energy provided funds for enhancement of public access to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breakwater piers. The GLFT provided additional funding and management of grant funds for some of these Lake Michigan sites.
The GLFT is a private, nonprofit corporation operating independently of the public agencies, Indian tribes, or private conservation organizations that make up its board of trustees. Using funds derived from the settlement, the GLFT contracts for its administrative and management support services with a private firm, Public Sector Consultants Inc., located in Lansing, Michigan.