"From our old steam plant to our new steam plant, the carbon reduction is fifty percent," BWL General Manager J. Peter Lark said. "We are going to burn 350,000 fewer tons of coal this year because of this plant."
With a couple clicks of the mouse, the new Board of Water Light plant in Reo Town officially started generating power Monday morning.
"I woke up this morning, and said to my wife, 'Can you believe it? It's like Christmas! July 1 is finally here,'" BWL General Manager J. Peter Lark said.
July 1 was a day of firsts. It's the first power plant to be built in Michigan in 25 years, and the first for BWL in 40 years. It's also the company's first natural gas and cogeneration plant, a $182 million investment that hundreds of people came out to see.
"This was a plant that needed to happen," Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said. "We know that we had to build the next generation. In the days of old, you would have said, 'A power plant near my house?' You know, who wants the soot, the smoke, the noise? And then this incredible buidling, who would have thought that energy could look this beautiful?"
The plant might be noisy inside, but it's clean inside and out. Lark said the environmental impact is the most imporant part about the new facility.
"From our old steam plant to our new steam plant, the carbon reduction is fifty percent," Lark said. "We are going to burn 350,000 fewer tons of coal this year because of this plant."
It's considered the cleanest and most efficient in Michigan, and maybe even the U.S., which has Congressman Mike Rogers focused on the bigger picture.
"This really does set a trend for not just the city, the state, but the country," Rep. Mike Rogers, (R)-Brighton, said. "We'll be looking for more projects like this around the United States to kind of copy and emulate what they've done here."
As Lark likes to point out, they did it all on time and on budget.
"That baby is generating electricity, and it cost no more than what we planned it to cost," Lark said. "That's pretty cool."
Part of the project also included restoring the railroad depot next door to be used as a meeting space for BWL Board of Commissioners.
The plant is now providing homes and businesses with energy.