Community Admires New BWL Plant

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"This is about new clean energy, it's about jobs," Sen. Debbie Stabenow said. "It's about restoring a wonderful part of the city."

It's created cleaner air and hundreds of jobs, and it only opened Monday morning.

Hundreds of people came out to the grand opening of the Board of Water and Light's new cogeneration plant to enjoy a tour.

Mick David took a tour of the old plant last month. "This is a lot newer and shinier," David said.

It's also a lot more energy efficient, slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent.

"It's a combined cycle cogeneration plant, and that's probably as clean a plant as you're going to find anywhere in the United States," BWL General Manager J. Peter Lark said.

But moving forward also means building on the past. The new facility was built by the son of the man who built BWL's last plant 40 years ago.

Besides coming out to tour the state of the art power plant, many people took a walk down memory lane at the newly restored railroad depot.

"I used to come in that depot a lot as a kid, and I can even remember where the hot chocolate stand used to be," David said.

Now it's the new meeting place for the BWL Board of Commissioners.

"The past and the future right next to each other," Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said. "This is the kind of thing that only a hometown power company could do, that only a hometown power company would do."

The plant generates 300,000 pounds of steam, and people say it's just the boost of energy the area needed.

"I've seen Reo Town go through all kinds of ups and downs, and this is definitely a banner day," Sen. Debbie Stabenow, (D)-Michigan, said.

Senator Stabenow used to live right down the street. In fact, she's been a BWL customer since 1971. She joked about waiting for her long-term customer discount, but she's very proud of this progress and what it means for the community.

"This is about new clean energy, it's about jobs," Sen. Stabenow said. "It's about restoring a wonderful part of the city."

To current BWL workers, it's about looking forward to the future.

"It means job security, I hope," BWL employee Rod Bashore said. "We're in the union and stuff, and I hope it brings in more work around here, and maybe they can fix up a few more streets around this area too."

That's the plan. Reo Town is already attracting new businesses, and they hope that trend continues.

Employees are expected to be moved into the new building by Labor Day.

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