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Lansing utility to increase renewable energy in effort to be carbon neutral by 2040

Conceptual rendering of BWL's Delta Energy Park where some of the utility's renewable energy and battery storage will be built.
Courtesy Lansing BWL
Conceptual rendering of BWL's Delta Energy Park where some of the utility's renewable energy and battery storage will be built.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light plans an array of clean energy projects. The BWL projects are to be built between 2025 and ’27. They include solar, wind and battery storage. Some of the power will be generated in Lansing and some of it will be from outside the Lansing region.

“The solar does great for us in the summer months. June, July, and August you get 51% of the solar output for the entire year. And the wind has really good profile in January, February timeframe and also in the fall. So that helps balance. And batteries can shave the peak,” said Dick Peffley, General Manager of BWL.

He said Lansing power demands don’t have as many peaks as some power companies because Lansing has an industrial base, drawing electricity around the clock. Battery storage seemed better than building large jet engine powered peaker plants that are used by some power companies.

The plan does include a smaller 110 megawatt Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (RICE) gas-powered plant to complement the battery storage and add flexibility for electricity demand.

The renewable energy portfolio will amount to 650 megawatts of power, bringing the municipal utility’s renewable energy up to 58 percent of its overall power generation.

The project as planned will cost $750 million.

“It will take a one-time rate increase of somewhere between two-and-a-half and three percent over what we would have for a normal rate increase,” Peffley said.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light received $12 million from the Michigan Public Service Commission to build part of the new solar generation and battery storage at its Delta Energy Park near current facilities just southwest of Lansing.

The utility said this will move the company toward becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

The Lansing BWL serves approximately 100 thousand electric customers.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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