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Progress on Presque Isle Power Plant continues

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission received an update on the ongoing demolition of the Presque Isle Power Plant at its meeting on Tuesday night.

Representatives from WEC Energy Group told the commission that the full demolition should be completed in late 2021.

Crews have made extensive progress so far, starting with the removal of the two chimneys in July and August. Crews also removed universal waste such as light bulbs, ballasts, oils and grease, refrigerant and other materials over the last several months.

Currently, demolition of outbuildings and structures will occur through the end of November, and the removal of the water intake and discharge structures over Lake Superior will be removed later this month.

Brandenburg Industrial Services Co. is the lead contractor for the demolition project, and crews will move into the inner parts of the structure as winter approaches.

“Looking forward, crews will move inside throughout the winter months to perform demolition of the turbine, turbine pedestals and boiler-related equipment and structures,” project manager Rob Bregger said.

Outdoor work will continue in early 2021 with the hope of having the structure completely removed by the end of the year.

“When weather conditions allow next year, crews will move back outdoors and begin demolition of the Unit 1-4 building, which is the dark red building at the south end of the site,” Bregger said. “Then onto the Unit 5-9 building, followed by the office and yard buildings at the north end last.

“Foundation and slab removals and cleanup and grading will round out the work late in the year next year, and it is anticipated that crews will be demobilizing from the site at the end of next year.”

The coal-fired plant was retired and taken offline in March 2019 and replaced with two natural gas plants located in Baraga and Negaunee Township. We Energies hopes to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by 2030.

Commissioners were pleased to hear about the progress, but some did pose questions.

Commissioner Fred Stonehouse raised concerns about where the demolished material would end up.

“The items that have to be landfilled are going to the Marquette County landfill,” Bregger said. “Brandenburg is taking care of anything that can be recycled. Steel, all the different types of steel they can get from the site, they take that off site and sell that to a recycler.”

Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Hill questioned the status of the coal pile and the forebay wall along the Dead River.

“Right now we’re trucking some of the coal offsite to buyers and we plan on trucking the rest of it throughout the winter or into next year,” Bregger said. “The coal pile will be completely removed.”

Hill went on to question the process of the coal removal, raising concerns of traffic on city streets.

“We’ve had as many as five trucks here in a day, sometimes we only have one truck per day,” said Les Kowalski, asset manager for the power plant. “It really hinges on how much the buyer can handle at their site and what the trucking logistics may be.”

As far as the forebay wall, Bregger said that will stay in place for now and will be the responsibility of WEC Energy or a future developer.

“The metal wall, that’s our intake forebay, which they also refer to as the bin walls,” he said. “At this time, that’s planned to stay in place. It’s part of our stormwater plan structure for the future for any kind of stormwater that may come off the site and into the Dead River.

“We have a stormwater grading plan that our consultant has put together. I do not have that to share right here, but it’s been submitted to EGLE (Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) and approved.”

In other business conducted Tuesday night, the commission approved a brownfield redevelopment plan, development agreement and purchase of property from Customs House, LLC; denied a Planned Unit Development agreement with Lakeshore Residences, LLC; approved a contract with Donohue & Associates Inc., to provide engineering design services for the State Revolving Fund Solids Handling Improvement Project; approved Halloween trick-or-treating COVID-19 guidelines; formally recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day; and extended City Manager Mike Angeli’s contract through Oct. 1, 2021.

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