artist's rendering of proposed Baraga site

Proposed generation


Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.) is in need of additional power generation. Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. (UMERC) is proposing 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, this plan also reduces environmental emissions, provides tax benefits to the local host communities and reduces the need for future transmission investments.

Technology

The proposed facilities would 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.

We currently are working with our engine manufacturer and an engineering firm to design each generating station, and we are committed to being a good neighbor. Site design includes detailed sound modeling; we are working to design each facility with a sound limit of 50 decibels.

Site selection

Our proposal includes siting the generating facilities at two separate locations – one in Marquette County and the other in Baraga County.

The proposed sites are near existing transmission and natural gas infrastructure, which helps minimize the need for additional infrastructure costs. By locating a portion of the generation in these locations, significant and costly transmission projects will be avoided.

A total of 15 acres or more is desired for each site. The station footprint would be approximately six acres. The remaining space would be used for support infrastructure and parking.

Timeline

We filed our proposal with the Michigan Public Service Commission in January 2017. Additionally, we submitted two air permit applications to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in February 2017. We anticipate a decision on the project later this year. During the permitting process, we continue to work with the local communities and residents as we refine our plans.

If approved, construction is planned to begin in late 2017 or early 2018 and is expected to take 18 months to complete.

Commercial operation is planned for 2019. At that time or soon after, we expect to be in position to retire our coal-fired Presque Isle Power Plant.