Lansing Energy Tomorrow is the BWL’s major electric modernization program to replace and upgrade aging infrastructure with clean, efficient and reliable generation and transmission assets. The plan is vitally important to the future of the greater Lansing region, which will guide how the BWL will meet the region’s energy needs well into the future. In 2016, the Lansing Board of Water & Light worked with a Citizens’ Advisory Committee to determine how to replace the coal-fired Eckert Power Station, set to retire in 2020.
BWL customers told the citizens’ committee they wanted to replace Eckert with energy that’s affordable, reliable and cleaner than coal. They also wanted the BWL to deliver a reliable and affordable energy plan that improves air quality, attracts business and supports development.
Under the plan, the BWL has committed to 30 percent clean energy by 2020 and 40 percent by 2030, which means improved air quality and environmental health and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2025. This plan continues the BWL’s innovation and leadership in moving away from coal to a cleaner energy portfolio that’s also affordable and reliable.
Every few years, electric utilities — the BWL included — complete an IRP to determine how best to provide power to customers in the future. An IRP is a utility industry best-practice management tool that compels electric utilities to periodically examine customers’ demand for power and how best to meet it going forward. The result is a plan that we will be presented to the BWL Board of Commissioners in January and that will guide the actions the company takes to continue delivering reliable, affordable and cleaner power to BWL customers.
Citizens and other stakeholders who were unable to attend one of the open houses can also submit comments or ask questions at http://bit.ly/BWLIRP19.
The BWL will add both wind and solar power to its renewable portfolio to reinforce its commitment to cleaner energy. Plus, there needs to be enough natural gas power to keep rates affordable, and to ensure the reliable energy source Lansing homeowners and businesses expect and demand.
Also part of the plan are new energy-saving technologies and programs that will give BWL customers the ability to manage their own energy use. Under the plan, the BWL has committed to 30 percent clean energy by 2020 and 40 percent by 2030, which means improved air quality and environmental health and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent. This plan continues the BWL’s innovation and leadership in moving away from coal to a cleaner energy portfolio that’s also affordable and reliable.
To keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter, our community relies on power that’s ready whenever we need it for our homes, businesses, hospitals, schools and large industrial plants. To ensure the reliable electric supply Lansing needs, the plan includes replacing Eckert with power from a new, natural gas-fired plant. Natural gas is the reliable power source Lansing customers expect and demand because it can be turned on quickly to meet spikes in demand or to cover gaps in production from wind or solar.
The citizens’ committee understood the BWL’s history of affordable rates, so they carefully considered various alternatives to replace the energy from Eckert. Their recommendation balanced affordability and reliability with renewable choices. The result is a plan that will keep BWL rates affordable, while also being flexible enough to adapt if natural gas gets too expensive.
The BWL has a plan to replace the coal-fired Eckert Power Station with a cleaner mix of energy from wind, solar and natural gas. The plan also gives the BWL flexibility to add even more clean energy in the future, assuming new technologies continue to make renewable power more affordable and reliable. The BWL will take advantage of new technology and opportunities and will review this plan every four years.
Frequently Asked Questions
BWL’s Lansing Energy Tomorrow plan details how the Lansing Board of Water & Light will meet its energy needs in the future with reliable, affordable and clean energy.
The plan includes the 2016 Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) process which specified how the BWL will replace the Eckert Power Station, 1950s era-coal fired plant that will close by 2020. The IRP process was based on consideration of costs to customers, ensuring a reliable energy source for the region, environmental stewardship, managing future uncertainty and risks, federal regulations, local-generation capacity and economic development.
BWL’s Lansing Energy Tomorrow Plan also includes the five-year, $101 million Transmission & Distribution Improvement Project, which is already underway, which includes new transmission lines, five new or rebuilt substations, reducing the number of circuits and the amount of customer demand at the Eckert substation, and adding capacitor banks at strategic points on the BWL’s transmission system.
The Eckert Power Station will close by 2020 because it is nearing the end of its useful life. Parts are becoming scarce and very expensive, pending environmental regulations create an uncertain future for coal-fired plants like Eckert, and Eckert is located in a flood zone.
With its three tall stacks that are visible for miles, the Eckert Power Station is located along the Grand River just south of downtown Lansing. Eckert generates about one-third of the energy in the BWL’s service territory.
The Eckert Power Station will be replaced with a combination of energy coming from natural gas, more renewable energy options and a more comprehensive energy efficiency program. Delta Energy Park, scheduled to be operational in 2021 at the Erickson Power Station, is the new natural-gas fired plant and will generate 250 megawatts.
No. Eckert is located in a flood plain and because it is nearly 60 years old, parts and repairs are becoming prohibitively expensive. Eckert is coal-fired, and pending environmental regulations create an uncertain future for coal-fired plants like Eckert.
The Eckert Power Station will close by the end of 2020.