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One stack down, one to go

We Energies continues with process; projects to conclude by end of 2021

A construction employee works at dismantling one of the smokestacks at the Presque Isle Power Plant recently. The smokestack was removed and demolition of the second chimney is anticipated to be completed by the end of this month. (Photo courtesy of Steve Lindberg)

MARQUETTE — Since the retirement of the Presque Isle Power Plant in March 2019 by We Energies, decommissioning of the plant has been in progress. On July 18, one smokestack was removed.

The company, a WEC Energy Group subsidiary, began dismantling internal parts of the chimney in mid-February and the removal of the concrete outer shell started June 19, according to Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. spokeswoman Amy Jahns. The other chimney is expected to be removed by the end of this month by contractors working for Brandenburg Industrial Services Co., she said.

The company is stil evaluating its options for the site once demolition is finalized, Jahns noted.

“We continue to take multiple steps to decommission the plant, first with dismantling, collecting universal waste and major equipment from within the plant,” Jahns said. “We are currently working on dissembling the chimneys. In late summer/early fall, we plan to begin demolition of some of our outer auxiliary buildings. We anticipate complete demolition of the plant by the end of 2021.”

With each smokestack having a concrete outer shell, the process of dismantling takes about two to three weeks to complete. First, the smokestacks are reduced from 400 feet to about 85 feet, then the remaining 85 feet will be removed at a later date using different equipment, Jahns said.

“The process involves hoisting a machine to the top of the chimney that breaks the concrete into manageable pieces as it works its way around the chimney. The pieces are dropped down the interior of the chimney shell to the base, where it is then removed and recycled,” she said.

Once the steel rebar embedded in the concrete is separated, it gets hauled away and turned into recycling. The concrete will be crushed and used on site for fill material, she added.

Retiring the coal-fueled plant, which opened in 1955, has helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40% below 2005 levels, which is “well ahead of our 2030 target,” Jahns said in a previous Mining Journal article. The Presque Isle Power Plant generated 644,000 tons of coal ash over the past decade, she said, adding that approximately 80% of the coal ash was reused for roads and construction materials including concrete and concrete products.

Taxable value decreased when the plant shut down, city of Marquette Financial Chief Officer Gary Simpson said, noting that in 2015, the taxable value for the property was about $112.4 million. Now, the current taxable value is nearly $10 million. For property tax revenue, Marquette’s portion in 2015 was $1,654,698; 2020, $149,171, Simpson added.

“We have expressed our desire to We (Energies) to have the property remediated and put into development to raise taxable value as soon as possible,” he said. “All indications from We (Energies) have been that they understand and concur.”

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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