Inside Eckert station before it closes

Posted at 9:06 AM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 09:15:25-05

Three iconic smoke stacks ready to shut down.

"We feel it's time to retire Eckert station. It's been a workhorse for many years," said Dick Peffley, BWL's General Manager. "It's supplied Lansing with reliable energy since the 50's, but now it's time to look forward."

A look inside, and you'll see fifty year old equipment spread out across dimly lit floors.

"All the pumps and everything that are used to pump the water into the boilers that help turn the water to steam to make electricity," said Peffley.

A process that has slowed down over the years.

"Most days we only have one to two units on," said Peffley. "We use the power from our other plants. It's more efficient, more environmentally friendly versus this plant."

In the beginning when the plant ran all six of its turbine generators, burning more than a million tons of coal a year. But now it only burns about a fifth of that and generates electricity mainly for the downtown area.

"The steam goes through there and turns the blades and is mechanically hooked to the generator right there," explained Peffley. "That's what makes the electricity."

The generators at the new REO Town Plant can go from zero to a hundred percent output in 10 minutes. But at Eckert, it can take at least eight hours.

"The hotter the water is, the faster it'll boil and turn to steam," said Peffley. "The old plant you can see how challenging it is to do work here."

It costs about 60 percent less to create the same amount of electricity.

"Eckert station runs on coal and natural gas is much cleaner," said Peffley. "As we move forward. we'll be looking at that. Coal plant will not be in our future."

A future that starts in 2020.