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Lansing’s old coal-fired power plant to close in four years

Aug 13, 2015

Credit Davidshane0 / Wikimedia commons

It’s hard to miss the Eckert plant’s three towering smokestacks in downtown Lansing. They’ve been around almost 60 years.

“They’re affectionately known as Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” Steve Serkaian, a spokesman for Lansing’s public utility, said.

“Those stacks’ days are unfortunately numbered,” he added.

The plant is just too outdated to make it worth an upgrade.

New regulations limiting mercury and other pollutants plants can emit are a part of the issue. But the plant is old enough it’s also difficult to find parts to make repairs, and there are too many hurdles to switch it over to burn natural gas, Serkaian said. Plus, it’s technically in a flood zone.

It’s not clear yet how the city will replace the 300 or so megawatts of power it produces. Or how much a replacement will cost.

The city will undertake a major planning process later this year to figure out how to replace the plant.

It could build a new one, most likely natural gas. Or it could invest in more renewable sources. Or it could buy power from the grid instead.

“But the Lansing Board of Water and Light has a tradition, a heritage of producing power for the community it serves. We want to hear from our customers as to whether they want us to continue that tradition,” Serkaian said.