BWL's $182M REO Town Plant Goes to Work

September 12, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Monday, July 1, 2013


Written by Steven R. Reed | | LSJ
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With the click of a computer mouse, the Board of Water & Light’s 60,000-horsepower generators roared to life Monday, initiating commercial operations for the utility’s $182 million, natural gas-fired REO Town power plant. 

BWL General Manager J. Peter Lark hailed the plant for coming online on time and on budget and for taking the utility into a “cleaner and greener” future. 

“Perhaps you heard President Obama last week talking about greenhouse gases and cutting the carbon emissions from generating plants,” Lark said to hundreds of people who crowded into a restored, 111-year-old train depot for the dedication of the power plant a few steps away. 

“What he requested was he asked the EPA to implement regulations that would slash greenhouse gases by 17 percent,” Lark said. “Well, when you take this plant and fold it into our entire portfolio, this plant allows … (BWL) to have a 20 percent reduction in carbon. 

“So the President asked for it last week and we delivered this week.” 

Much of the hour-long dedication ceremony acknowledged the people and companies who conceived, planned, financed and built the plant on Washington Avenue, four blocks south of Interstate 496. 

Lark characterized Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero as a “relentless supporter” of the plant, which is the first utility power plant to be built in Michigan in 25 years and the first built by BWL in 40 years. 

When it was Bernero’s turn to speak, he paused, turned toward Lark and generated a wave of laughter by challenging BWL to harness the wind energy of his speech. 

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow said she had been a BWL customer since at least 1971 and recalled living years ago in the neighborhood around the 5.3-acre plant. 

With the opening of the plant, “Lansing continues to be on the move,” she said. “I am so proud to say this is my hometown.” 

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers praised the construction crews who built the plant over 26 months, citing them as examples of the best workers in the world. 

The REO Town plant will rely exclusively on natural gas in generating electricity and steam. The plant allows the utility to close the Moores Park Steam plant and to retire the three oldest units of the Eckert Power Station, which is located across the street from the new facility.