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Lansing opens first new utility power plant built in Michigan in 25 years


From the July 3, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published July 3, 2013

The first new utility power plant built in Michigan in 25 years — the Lansing Board of Water & Light’s REO Town cogeneration plant — is fully operational following "Going Commercial" ceremonies on Monday, the utility said. The REO Town Headquarters and Cogeneration Plant is the BWL’s first new power plant in 40 years. 

"BWL’s REO Town cogeneration plant is among the most clean and efficient in Michigan and the U.S." said BWL General Manager J. Peter Lark. "This state-of-the-art cogeneration plant scores a major victory for the environment. And, we’re proud that the project has been called a ‘game changer’ for economic development in the Lansing region."

The $182 million project — which was built on time and on budget — includes a new cogeneration power plant, new headquarters office building, and restored Grand Trunk Western Railroad depot, to be used as a meeting place for the BWL Board of Commissioners, the utility said.

The 100-MW cogeneration plant will provide 20 percent of the municipal utility’s generation, 100 percent of BWL’s steam generation and up to 300,000 pounds of steam for 225 steam customers in downtown Lansing. The plant is BWL’s first natural gas-fired electric generating plant and its first cogeneration plant. 

BWL said the plant will allow it to: 

  • Slash greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent compared to the coal-fired steam and electric units that the new plant will replace;
  • Eliminate the need to burn 351,000 tons of coal compared to the steam and electric units that the new plant will replace; and
  • Lower mercury and sulfur dioxide emissions by over 99 percent, and oxides of nitrogen by over 85 percent compared to the coal-fired boilers that are now retired.

The headquarters building and restored depot should be completed as planned in a few more weeks and the facility is expected to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the utility said. 

The 5.3-acre property contained an asphalt parking lot and the train depot at the time of purchase. The historical importance of the train depot to the REO Town neighborhood led the BWL to restore the depot, which is on the U.S. and Michigan Registers of Historic Sites. Developing the site is expected to enhance economic development in REO Town, the city and the region, the utility said. 


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