BWL's Planned Reo Town Plant Gets Green Light

September 12, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

By Alex Goldsmith |
10:36 PM Dec 8, 2010

It's just an empty lot now, but in a little more than two years, the empty lot at the corner of Washington and South streets will be transformed into a new natural gas power plant.

It will be the first facility of its type in the state and will cut down on emissions.

"We're excited because we know it's going to reduce the amount of coal consumed by 139,000 tons each year," said Mark Nixon, a spokesman for the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

Once the plant is operational, the company's Moores Park Plant will be retired.

But the reduced emissions won't come cheap. The BWL estimates that customers will see a $5 per month rate hike starting in early 2013 to help pay for the $182 million building. But Nixon says trying to keep the status quo would've been more expensive.

"Based on our analysis, keeping the old coal-fired plant would cost considerably more, maybe twice as much," said Nixon.

"It's a major investment and it's struck at the exact right time for Reo Town," said Bob Trezise, president of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation.

Building the plant is expected to create more than 1,000 short-term construction jobs. 180 jobs will be moved to the area, although no new positions will be created.

"We think having 180 people living and working down here will have a big impact on the area," said Nixon. "This will be transformative for Reo Town."

"Four buildings are being sold, have been sold or are being rehabilitated in Reo Town," said Trezise. "It's remarkable because it's been quite a while since we've been able to say that."

As part of the construction effort, BWL will also renovate the old train depot on the property, putting it back into full use. The building is in a state of disrepair and has a combination of boarded-up and broken windows. Local businesses are happy to see that change.

"I think it's an eyesore," said Tony Pellegrino, manager of Discount Dave's Liquidation Center which is located across the street from the depot. "The train depot will be a beautiful building."