Presque Isle Power Plant shuts down for final time

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - It's the beginning of the end for the Presque Isle Power Plant, as it's powered down for the final time Sunday. At 9 am, they started shutting off different levels of the power plant.

WEC Energy Group’s subsidiary, Upper Michigan Energy Resources (UMERC), began commercial operation of the A.J. Mihm Generating Station in Baraga County and the F.D. Kuester Generating Station in Negaunee Township on March 31. These new natural gas powered generating stations replace the energy from the company’s coal-fueled Presque Isle Power Plant retired the same day.

“The new generating stations are good for our customers, good for business and good for electric reliability throughout the U.P.,” said Kevin Fletcher, President and Chief Executive officer of WEC Energy Group. “Closure of the Presque Isle Power Plant also helps achieve our goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent, well ahead of our 2030 target.”

Plans for this transition date back to 2015 when Michigan Governor Rick Snyder issued a call to action to solve the Upper Peninsula’s energy crisis. WEC Energy Group says they answered that call and developed a reliable, affordable and clean energy solution.

WEC Energy Group funded the $275 million investment. Half of the investment will be recovered through a 20-year agreement with Cliffs Natural Resources. The other half will be recovered in retail electric rates.

The state-of-the-art generating stations are expected to save UMERC customers nearly $600 million over the next 30 years. The new stations will eliminate the need for additional transmission capacity as well as upgrades that would have been needed at the aged Presque Isle Power Plant if it had continued to operate.

Fletcher says the Presque Isle Power Plant’s closure is part of WEC Energy Group’s larger plan to reshape its electrical generation to balance reliability and customer cost with environmental stewardship. He adds plans for the future use of the retired coal plant site will be developed as the company continues to evaluate potential uses for the property.

The city of Marquette is hopeful the property will be reused in a beneficial way for the community.