BWL customers weigh in on big changes

Posted at 8:16 AM, Jan 14, 2016

It's a tricky problem to solve - how to replace the power generated by the coal-fired Eckert Power Plant in Downtown Lansing.

"Look at the constraints that we'll be facing," Lansing BWL Director George Stojic said. "Some of the environmental regulations that are coming down the road and so forth. [We're trying] to determine the best plan for reliable and affordable and cleaner energy future for the Mid-Michigan area."

That's why the Lansing BWL is asking the public to weigh in. It has had five public meetings about it and surveyed seven hundred people and businesses.

"The response is a preference for gas-generated power, especially among businesses, and renewables to the extent that they can, with the full understanding that renewable can't replace all of Eckert," Bernie Porn, President of EPIC-MRA, the company that did the polling.

The BWL says keeping the Eckert Power Plant open is not an option. The plant is at the end of its operational life, and the older it gets, the more expensive it becomes to repair.

"We'll probably have a balanced portfolio going forward. It'll be a reliable, much cleaner, much more efficient way of producing energy in the future and delivering it to our customers," Stojic said.

Will big changes mean big costs that are passed on to customers?

"That's a part of what will come out of this process, it's a little premature to talk about at this point, I just couldn't even give you an answer to tell the truth," Stojic said.

The Eckert Plant will be retired by January 1, 2020. The BWL says customers should start seeing changes at least by then.