Erickson Power Station’s retirement ends decades of coal burning power plants for cleaner future
The Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) retired its last coal-fired power plant, Erickson Power Station, on Sunday, November 27. Erickson began operating in 1973 and was capable of producing 160 megawatts of electricity with a single, coal-fired generator.
The retirement of Erickson, preceded by Eckert Power Station’s retirement in 2020, makes BWL the largest utility in Michigan to generate coal-free power by 2022 and it aligns with BWL’s plan to provide 50 percent clean energy by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2040.
“In 2012, BWL burned 1.2 million tons of coal. Today, 10 years later, BWL’s coal consumption is zero,” said Dick Peffley, General Manager, Lansing Board of Water & Light.
“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. 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,” said Peffley.
BWL’s coal-fired power plants are being replaced by cleaner and more efficient natural-gas power plants, REO Cogeneration Plant and Delta Energy Park, along with a mix of renewable wind and solar generation. Compared to coal, natural gas generation represents an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions, as well as a 99.9 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions. BWL also has a purchase power agreement with Michigan Public Power Agency to purchase power from DTE’s Belle River coal-fired plant located in southeast Michigan’s St. Clair County. DTE has announced plans to convert Belle River to natural gas in 2025-26.
Looking to its energy future, BWL recently issued an All-Sources Request for Proposal (RFP) that will be used 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. For more information, visit lbwl.com/about-bwl/2023-all-source-rfp-capacity-energy.
The BWL has approximately 100,000 electric customers, 58,000 water customers, 155 steam customers and 19 chilled water customers. To more information about BWL’s energy portfolio, visit lbwl.com/facilities.