BWL Begins New Transmission Line Project

Nov 29, 2017

The Lansing Board of Water and Light has started work on a new project.  The utility will build a seven-mile electricity transmission line designed to provide more reliable service for customers on the north and west sides of its service territory.  The West Side Improvement Project is part of a larger initiative the BWL calls “Lansing Energy Tomorrow.” 

 


  DICK PEFFLEY:

 

“And what this will do is allow us to import power from the west side of our service territory downtown.  So the project will start out at Erickson Station and it terminates over at (the) Willow Sub(station) which is by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.”

 

KEVIN LAVERY:

 

“And of course, the Erickson plant is the large facility with the red and white striped smokestack that’s easily seen from the I-69 / I-96 (interchange) out near the GM Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant.”

 

PEFFLEY:

 

“Correct.  And that facility is also reaching the end of its useful life; it will be closed at the end of 2025.  So, we’re putting the infrastructure in so that we can move power from our different facilities and still maintain our system and not have everything coming out of Eckert Station.  One-third of our energy comes out of Eckert Station, so we have to find different ways to bring energy to our customers, and that’s what this project will do for us.”

 

LAVERY:

 

“Will customers see any noticeable change in their power, and more importantly, in their payment with the new West Side improvement project?”

 

PEFFLEY:

 

“No...not in their payment; there will be no change.  The West Side improvement is a capital budget that’s already been funded.  What they will see is higher reliability; fewer nuisance outages.  And when we have an outage, the magnitude will be smaller now because we’ve got more routes to send the power down.”

 

LAVERY:

 

“How would you define a ‘nuisance outage?’”

 

PEFFLEY:

 

“The biggest cause of outages for us right now is tree limbs coming down.  They trip the circuits off, and there can be thousands of houses on that circuit.  We can re-route the power faster with this new line coming down and have different backup sources, so that you’re dealing with more of a flicker or a five-minute outage.  If we have to call a crew out to remove the branch, you know...it takes 15 minutes to drive in and they have to drive the circuit to look for where the branch is and take it off...you’re looking at more of an hour, an hour and a half outage.  So, I consider those ‘nuisance outages.’”

 

LAVERY:

 

“From where we’re sitting right now in your corner office in the new REO Town co-generation plant, we are within a half mile of the old and the new.  The Eckert plant; the iconic tri-smokestack ‘Winkin,Blinkin and Nod’ as people call it around here; and again about a half mile from the new central substation.  Where are we on the new central substation?”

 

PEFFLEY:

 

“It will go live next fall.  Next week, they’re actually going to start working on some of the walls that go up around it, which are really cool in their design.  We had a lot of community input on that.  So, you’ll start seeing something.”

 

LAVERY:

 

“How is the community – especially the REO Town neighborhood – interacting with you and your office?  There were some difficult emotions surrounding the (demolition) of the Scott House and (relocation) of the Scott sunken gardens, in order to make way for the central substation.”

 

PEFFLEY:

 

“Absolutely...and that’s why we did three design charrettes to get the community’s involvement.  We had no choice, really, but to build there.  That’s where the infrastructure is and we knew that it was a sensitive issue, taking a park land and moving the garden and taking the house down.  But we worked with the community and tried to accommodate their needs.  I think the outcome of the substation when it’s built...you’re going to look at it and say ‘wow!’  It’s going to be the wow factor.”

 

LAVERY:

 

“What can BWL customers going forward expect in terms of renewable energy; what the state is requiring of the Board of Water and Light?  There’s a Renewable Portfolio Standard that the state of Michigan has established.  In past conversations, you and I have discussed how BWL is trying to exceed the state’s RPS?”

 

PEFFLEY:

“Only one correction there: not trying.  We will.  We are committed to be at 30 percent clean energy by 2020, far exceeding the state’s goal, and 40 percent by 2030.  We want to be the first major utility to be off coal, and we’re going to be coal-free by 2025.  So we need to find some way to bridge the gap between coal and 100 percent renewables...and that announcement is going to be in a few weeks.”