A coal-fired power plant in Litchfield, Mich. is about to start a second life as a clean energy facility. Construction began earlier this month on the new site, which is expected to house 15 tenants and create 75 new jobs.
This new project is the work of Michigan Hub LLC, a development company that aims to provide “energy with synergy.” Over the next couple years, it’ll convert the 44-acre site into a facility capable of generating 168 megawatts of power from clean, local sources.
The land was once home to the Endicott Generating Station, a coal plant that closed in 2016.
“Michigan Hub will craft the future with local power, supplying our tenants and customers with clean, locally-sourced electricity, steam, and chilled water at a price that will reduce their production and utility costs and increase their competitive positions,” Glenn Foy, the CEO of Michigan Hub, told the Associated Press.
“We believe in a true ‘hub’ of forward-looking businesses that demand low-cost energy that is locally produced and reduces their carbon footprint and costs.”
Foy did not offer specifics on the power sources, though the company site offers some clues. Michigan Hub says it “will utilize clean-burning natural gas, fired combusion [sic] turbines, and heat recovery” to generate energy for the site’s tenants, as well as adjacent facilities and the state’s local municipalities.
According to the AP, the project will be complete sometime between 2020 and 2021. MLive reports a slightly later date of 2022. But all outlets agree on the price tag: $100 million.
The first confirmed tenant is Independent Barley and Malt, Inc., which produces grains for local brewers and distillers — 50,000 tons per year, to be exact. The company was attracted to the power possibilities of the new clean energy park.
"Once we found Michigan Hub and learned about their plans for the site ... it was the perfect fit," Mark Schauer, director of corporate affairs for Independent Barley and Malt, told MLive.
"We will be the largest producer of malt for craft brewers and distillers east of Milwaukee. We're inherently a big energy user. To have access to unlimited steam for our process is precisely what we need."
Though Michigan Hub has yet to secure the remaining 14 tenants, it’s targeting grain millers, breweries, data centers, commercial bakeries, bio-refineries, automotive OEMs, and bio-pharmaceutical producers. Foy claims he can offer them a 41 percent reduction in utility costs, compared to traditional electric providers.
Michigan Hub promises an additional list of "local energy capabilities" on its website, including combined heat and power, on-site bioenergy gasification, and plug-in recharging for employees with electric vehicles.
But before it can deliver on any of those pledges, the company has to build. By MLive’s account, Foy and his colleagues are working on securing an additional 150 acres of land for the project at an unspecified location. This will help Michigan Hub achieve its ultimate goal of building an “energy island” that supports local businesses with affordable clean power that also goes back into the state grid.