Powering Strong Communities

Lansing Board of Water & Light Retires Last Coal-Fired Plant

The Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) has retired its last coal-fired power plant, which the public power utility said makes it the largest utility in Michigan to generate coal-free power by 2022.

The Nov. 27 retirement of the 160-megawatt (MW) Erickson Power Station aligns with the integrated resource plan BWL released in August 2020 that calls for the utility to deliver 50 percent of its power from clean energy sources by 2030 and to be a carbon dioxide neutral utility by 2040.

“In 2012, BWL burned 1.2 million tons of coal,” Dick Peffley, BWL’s general manager, said in a statement. “Today, 10 years later, BWL’s coal consumption is zero.”

The retirement of the Erickson plant, which began operation in 1973, was preceded by BWL’s retirement of its 350-MW Eckert station in 2020.

BWL is replacing its coal-fired power plants with natural gas-fired plants, as well as a mix of wind and solar generation. Compared with coal, natural gas generation represents an 80 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, as well as a 99.9 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions, BWL said.

BWL replaced the Erickson plant with the 250-MW natural gas-fired, combined-cycle plant Delta Energy Park that came online in August 2022.

BWL also has an agreement with Michigan Public Power Agency to purchase power from DTE Energy’s Belle River coal-fired plant in southeast Michigan’s St. Clair County. DTE has announced plans to convert Belle River to natural gas in 2025-2026.

“These coal-fired plants generated power that allowed Lansing’s automobile industry to grow and flourish and made the Lansing area a terrific place to live, work and raise a family,” Peffley said. “Now it’s time for the next generation of cleaner energy to power the region’s electric vehicle future and beyond. I started my BWL career at Erickson and the plant has had a great run. We appreciate its service to our community and all the employees that kept it operational throughout the decades.”

BWL recently issued an All-Sources request for proposals that the utility plans to use to evaluate electric supply or demand-side resources including wind, solar, battery storage and energy savings programs that can help meet all or part of the BWL’s capacity and energy needs.

The BWL has about 100,000 electric customers, 58,000 water customers, 155 steam customers and 19 chilled water customers.