Public gets inside look at new natural gas power plant in Negaunee Township

NEGAUNEE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - The public got a look inside the Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corporation's new F.D. Kuester Generating Station on Thursday. The station began operation March 31, the same day the Presque Isle Power Plant retired. In this new facility, they're creating power using state of the art methods and equipment.

"Here we have seven Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines,” said Richard Rayborn, director of UMERC. “This is a new state of the art technology that runs on natural gas.”

The gas comes from SEMCO to the facility.

"Natural gas comes in and it runs through a RICE engine,” said Rayborn.

It is then combusted like a car engine and turned into electric power. That power then goes into the UMERC grid. Seven engines make up the plant in Negaunee Township, and three are located at the A.J. Mihm Station in Baraga.

"These two units are very efficient,” said Rayborn. “We can go from a cold start to a full load in about ten minutes. Whereas a base load power plant takes several hours to do."

These two stations produce 183 megawatts of power, compared to the 350 megawatts produced at the Presque Isle Power Plant. The efficiency allows them to do things cleaner, which is part of several changes they are making.

"One piece is to close or retire old fossil generation plants," said Rayborn.

Tour groups got to learn more about the $275 million station, as well as their future plans for energy production in the Upper Peninsula.

"We're also trying to find other renewable energy sources, we're really focusing on solar energy right now," said Rayborn.

While operations have begun at the new generating stations, UMERC is still working to empty and demolish the retired Presque Isle Power Plant.

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