Public tour

UMERC invites neighbors to see plant progress

An Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. official provides details on the construction of the F.D. Kuester Generating Station in Negaunee Township on Wednesday. UMERC conducted public tours of the facility, which is 45 percent complete, with full commercial operation expected in April. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

NEGAUNEE — Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. officials invited the public for a tour of their new facility in Negaunee Wednesday.

The F.D. Kuester Generating Station in Negaunee Township is part of a $275 million power generation project that is set for commercial operation by April, UMERC Director Richard Rayborn.

The project, consisting of the Negaunee site along with a site in Baraga County, will be capable of producing 183 megawatts of power generation and is 45 percent complete, Rayborn said.

Tour participants got a first-hand view of the American Transmission Company substation, as well as the last of the seven 35-ton, 46-foot-long by 20-foot-tall reciprocating internal combustion engines as it was prepared to be placed in the engine hall.

UMERC Project Manager Terry Carroll said the engine hall itself is different from similar projects in the region with a double-tiered roof and concrete walls to mitigate sound.

The plant’s substation is pictured. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

“The dark concrete is precast. They are about a foot thick. That is our actual engine hall, so the engines themselves are housed kind of in a concrete coffin, so to speak,” Carroll said. “The concrete walls are big and thick and heavy and they keep the sound inside. That is one of the distinguishing factors between this plant and other plants that have been built. We expect to have much less of an audible impact because of the concrete walls.”

UMERC spokesperson Amy Jahns said the company has tried to be a good neighbor throughout the construction process.

“We are committed to communicating with our neighbors to let them know where we are at — that there is construction going on, that we are on schedule, on budget, things like that,” Jahns said. “And now they actually get to see it themselves, so it’s kind of a great day when we can get everyone in to see it.”

Both plants are expected to begin commercial operation in April, officials say.

A generator is delivered to the plant. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)