Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) is in need of additional power generation. Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC) is making a $275 million investment in approximately 180 megawatts of natural gas-fueled generation in two locations – Marquette County and Baraga County – to facilitate a long-term solution that ensures electric reliability in the U.P.
In addition to providing a reliable energy solution for the region, these projects also reduce environmental emissions, provide tax benefits to the local host communities and reduce the need for future transmission investments.
The facilities will use electric generators called reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE). These modular engines run on natural gas and allow for extremely reliable and flexible operations.
This technology also provides the following benefits:
- Efficiency is maintained over a wide range of generation output.
- Environmental impact is very low – including limited water use.
- Engines are delivered and installed in modules, sized for needed capacity.
The units operate similar to a backup generator with an engine shaft coupled to a generator. The RICE units are housed inside a building with an exterior resembling that of a warehouse. The exhaust system is located outside the building and includes stacks. A fan-cooled radiator bank also is located outdoors.
Committed to being a good neighbor, we are working with our engine manufacturer and an engineering firm to design each generating station with a 50-decibel sound limit. This is a widely accepted sound level for industrial facilities. To achieve that level, we will do the following:
- Use concrete walls with interior sound attenuation panels, rather than steel walls.
- Build a double-layer roof, using heavy-duty steel panels with sound attenuation, rather than a single-layer roof.
- Incorporate silencers on air intake and exhaust systems.
- Install ultra-low-noise radiators.
Our sites in Marquette County and Baraga County are near existing transmission and natural gas infrastructure, which minimizes additional infrastructure and transmission costs.
Each site is more than 15 acres, with the generating station footprint approximately six acres. The remaining space will be used for support infrastructure and parking.
We filed our proposal with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) in January 2017. Additionally, we submitted two air permit applications to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in February 2017. On Oct. 25, the MPSC approved the project, and site preparation work began in late October.
Commercial operation is planned for the second quarter of 2019. At that time or soon after, we expect to be in position to retire our coal-fired Presque Isle Power Plant.