UPERC gains approval to build new stations in UP

LANSING — The Michigan Public Service Commission recently approved Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp.’s plan to build two natural gas generating stations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“We are pleased with the commission’s decision to approve and support our long-term solution for electric reliability in the U.P.,” said J. Patrick Keyes, president of UMERC. “We also want to thank Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette and community stakeholders who collaborated with us throughout this process to achieve a cost-effective energy future for the citizens of the U.P.”

UMERC soon will begin site preparation activities on the generating stations at the F.D. Kuester Generating Station in Marquette County and the A.J. Mihm Generating station in Baraga County.

The F.D. Kuester Generating Station is named for Frederick “Rick” Kuester, former executive vice president of Wisconsin Energy Corp. — the predecessor company to WEC Energy Group.

Kuester successfully guided the company’s generation business and Power the Future plan — the largest private construction program in Wisconsin’s history. Under his leadership, the company successfully built new coal, natural gas, biomass and wind generation.

The A.J. Mihm Generating Station is named after Allan J. Mihm, director of major projects at WEC Energy Group. For many years, Mihm has provided his expertise and guidance on major company power generation projects, including this project.

The Upper Peninsula Generation Project is expected to provide a total of 183 megawatts of power from the two facilities,

Construction for the generating stations will begin in spring 2018, and operation is anticipated in 2019. This will allow for the retirement of the coal-fueled Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette no later than 2020.

Total cost to build both facilities will be slightly more than $270 million. Both electric generation facilities are expected to be in operation for 30 years.

Construction employment is expected to be 300, with approximately 200 workers at the Negaunee Township site and about 100 at the Baraga Township site. UMERC said it expects between 60 percent and 80 percent of the construction employees will be Michigan workers hired from local building trades unions.

Once operational, the two plants together are expected to employ a total of about 12 people.

Upper Michigan Energy Resources, with offices in Menominee and Iron Mountain, serves nearly 36,500 electric and 5,300 natural gas customers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. UMERC is an energy company subsidiary of WEC Energy Group.

For more information on the project, go to the UMERC website at uppermichiganenergy.com. Learn more about WEC Energy Group at wecenergygroup.com.