Power Supply Alternatives

MEC Part 1

MEC Part 2


Combustion Turbine / Combined Cycle

Combustion Turbine

A combustion turbine (CT) is a jet engine connected to a generator. A CT is a quick start generation resource (10 min) and meets the BLP’s requirement for quick start anytime generation.

A heat recovery boiler and turbine can be added to a CT for efficient combined cycle Operation (heat rate drops from 9,080 to 6,300 btu/kwh). The combined cycle addition is not considered quick start.

A CT is not recommended due to the following:

a) Building a CT at the Shiras Steam Plant is costly (over $150 million) and time consuming due to working around existing infrastructure and an active power plant. The environment is harsh due to coal dust, lime dust, and lake spray. Real estate is very limited making placement of a CT with an existing operation unfeasible.

b) Building at the Wright Street Office would require cooling towers (for combined cycle operation) along with water quantity becoming a major issue, adding to costs.

c) The Diesel Plant was ruled out as a potential CT site due to being located in a 100 year flood plain and having no available natural gas supply. Again, water supply for cooling and cooling towers would become a major issue.

d) A CT requires expensive natural gas compression.

e) The combined cycle addition may not be needed for another 20 years or longer.

f) Operating a CT as simple cycle does not provide the load following capabilities in comparison to reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE).

g) A CT incurs maintenance penalties for multiple starts.

h) A CT has a 30 year lifespan in comparison to RICE 40 year plus lifespan.



Network Integrated Transmission Service (NITS)


NITS is the ability of transmission system to carry a utilities full system load. NITS provides the space on the transmission system but does not include the energy, which is purchased separately.

  • MISO’s NITS has never been available to the BLP. If NITS were available, the cost would be over $3 million per year. This money would leave the Marquette area.

  • NITS may not become available until 2019 or later.

  • NITS customers become renters instead of owners. NITS customers have no control over costs, which increase yearly. Marquette controls future rates by owning and operating its own generation.

  • Investing in locally owned and operated generation keeps control, money, jobs, and PILT local, thereby benefiting and strengthening the local community area.

  • Lansing, Holland, and Grand Haven municipal utilities do not take NITS services as they self-generate like Marquette.

  • The BLP has only one interconnection to the electrical grid, making it vulnerable to a single point of failure. Loss of ATC’s interconnection transformer can take up to three (3) weeks to replace. Building a second ATC interconnection for backup, would cost $20 million, and still would not protect the BLP from a transmission system grid outage.

  • NITS, even if available, is not a BLP recommended solution to solve Marquette’s reliability problem.



Coal Fired Generation

Coal Fired

Coal fired generation is considered base load and not quick start (10 hour start up time).

If the BLP were to install a new 80 MW coal fired unit at the Shiras Steam Plant, both Units 1 and 2 would have to be demolished and removed to make space, a cooling tower would be needed, the latest air quality control systems installed, and CO2 emissions reduction equipment (of which there is no current viable technology) would be needed.

The estimated the cost, for a new 80 MW coal generating unit at the Shiras Steam Plant, is $300 million ($3,750/kw). This cost is contrasted with The New Energy Center at $65 million

($623/kw). New coal fired generation is not economically feasible for the BLP. 



Hydro Power Generation

Hydro Power

The BLP currently has 4 MW of renewable hydro power generation and during times of full load supplies 8,000 residences with power. Hydro power is a valuable source of renewable energy and provides almost 10% of the BLP’s output.

Due to limited run of river sites, additional hydro power cannot be built by the BLP.

Hydro power is an intermittent source (seasonally fluctuating water resources) and does not meet the BLP’s requirement of quick start, available at any time, generation.

Installation of RICE units will support the BLP’s hydro power, by providing backup power during times of low water supplies. 



Solar Photovoltaic Generation


The BLP has an active net metering program with over 10 solar generators and 1 wind generator. The BLP is planning for a Marquette Community Solar Garden, so interested customers can benefit from a local community solar energy project.

The BLP has identified a preferred site location on BLP properties. This property will support an initial solar installation of 50 to 100 kW (200 - 400 panels) with ample room for growth. Customers will be able to purchase solar panels for powering their homes and businesses. Installation of the solar garden is planned for the summer of 2016, if there is enough customer interest.

Although solar energy does not meet the BLP’s immediate need of quick start, available at any time, generation, solar energy provides needed energy during the daytime when loads are higher.

Installation of RICE units will support the BLP’s additional development of renewable energy, by providing backup power when renewables are not producing.

All-electric vehicle: The BLP recently received a grant to upgrade to an all-electric extended cab truck. The vehicle has been purchased as part of the BLP’s vehicle fleet and is successfully returning an average of 102 mpg.



Wind Power Generation

Wind Power

The BLP has performed two wind feasible studies and found wind speeds less than 7 meters/second, which is marginal in the Marquette area.

Future advances in wind turbine technology may make the BLP service area more viable for producing wind energy. The BLP continues to evaluate and consider wind generation as a potential renewable energy resource.

Today’s 1 MW wind turbines would require 60 acres each and cost $2.2 million (40 MW of wind turbines would require 2,400 acres and cost $88 million). The wind turbine capacity factor, in the BLP’s service area would be less than 25%.

Although wind energy does not meet the BLP’s immediate need of quick start, available at any time, generation, wind energy does provide needed renewable energy.

Installation of RICE units will support the BLP’s additional development of renewable energy, by providing backup power when renewables are not producing.



Renewable Biomass


Renewafuel is a woody biomass cube made by drying and pressure extruding woody biomass. In 2010 Renewafuel began operations, at its new $19 million production facility, at K.I. Sawyer. The BLP, facing new environmental regulations, contracted with Renewafuel to supply product to be burned in Unit 2. The BLP invested over $300,000 in fuel handling and storage equipment to burn Renewafuel. An air permit was approved by the MDEQ to test burn a total of 50,000 tons. Several test burns of Renewafuel were successfully completed. The Renewafuel project ended as the company was unable to produce Renewafuel cubes within specifications. Renewafuel product costs also increased to almost double the cost of coal. Due to a 10 hour startup time of Unit 2, woody biomass type generation does not meet the BLP’s needs of quick start, available at any time, generation.



Fuel Cells


Fuel cell technology is an electrochemical energy conversion device that uses NG or biomass to convert hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. Although fuel cell technology has been in existence for over 100 years, with billions of dollars spent in research and development, fuel cells are only being efficiently used in niche locations.

Fuel cells have a higher capital cost compared to traditional forms of generation, are not sized (largest installation in the US is 14 MW) for the large amount of quick start, at any time, generation the BLP needs.



Nuclear Power Generation

Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is considered base load and not quick start. No new nuclear power plants have been built in the US in the past 30 years. Although there are small nuclear plants on the drawing board, current operating nuclear power plants are large, on the order of 600 MW or larger and are costly ($5,500/kw vs the New Energy Center at $1300/kw). This 600 MW capacity exceeds the BLP’s generation requirements by over ten times.

If excess nuclear power was available for purchase from the grid, it would not provide the reliability the BLP needs due to the transmission system constraints.