BWL board approves $500 million natural gas power plant

LANSING (WILX) The Lansing Board of Water and Light has the green light to build a natural gas fired power plant.

The BWL Board of Commissioners gave the $500 million plan unanimous final approval Tuesday night. The new gas plant is part of the BWL's plan to invest in renewable energy projects. The utility plans to close its two remaining coal fired plants, Eckert in 2020 and Erickson in 2025.

"Our plan will allow us to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy to our customers for years to come," said BWL General Manager Dick Peffley. "I’m proud we’re leading this effort, and that no other utility in the state will have coal free generation and reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2025 like the BWL."

However, the new gas plant has drawn criticism from environmental activists in Lansing. The 'Lansing Environmental Action Team" delivered hundreds of letters to Mayor Andy Schor earlier this month, urging him to convince the BWL to rethink the project. The group said it was foolish to invest in natural gas when there are readily available renewable options, like solar and wind.

Mayor Schor supports the building of the new plant, which he says is cleaner, smaller and more efficient. "This is a tremendous redevelopment project for the westside of the city that will create jobs, as well as provide cleaner and more efficient power," says Schor. "It will also ensure that our residents have reliable power, create the highest renewable usage of any utility in Michigan, and will ensure the lowest cost of power for our residents. "

The BWL says the new plant, located at the Erickson Power Station facility in Delta Township, will create 1,200 construction jobs. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2019.

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