Newly operational Niles power plant ‘more than replaces’ Palisades

When one door closes, another opens – or in this case, another power plant.

Indeck Niles Energy Center is operating at full capacity and has been providing natural gas-fueled power to residents of southwest Michigan since July 1. Company officials are touting its ability to fill the power gap left behind when the 800 megawatt-output Palisades Nuclear Plant closed in May.

While the Niles plant is built for year-round electricity production, the output can be adjusted based on electricity needs in the area. This is a big advantage compared to nuclear plants, said Indeck Vice President of Business Development David Hicks.

“It more than replaces Palisades,” said Hicks, of the Niles plant. “We can run anywhere from about 300 megawatts up to 1,085 megawatts. Anywhere in that range, we can run efficiently and safely. … A nuclear plant, you just want to turn it on and run at full power all the time. If you try to run it up and down, you could run into some pretty significant safety issues.”

The Indeck Niles facility generates enough electricity for about 650,000 homes and businesses using combined-cycle technology, which produces power through a gas turbine. Excess heat is then recovered and converted to steam to produce additional electricity. According to Indeck, combined-cycle plants are highly efficient and emit significantly fewer emissions than coal-fired power plants.

“This plant is highly flexible, extremely clean and even has limits on CO2 emissions,” Hicks said. “We are currently producing clean, highly efficient natural gas-fired generation to the people of the state of Michigan, the people of Indiana and the rest of the PJM Interconnection.”

In addition to southwest Michigan, northern Illinois and northeast Indiana, the PJM Interconnection delivers power to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia Washington D.C. and West Virginia.

The construction of the $1.1 billion facility created about 900 construction jobs, with 21 current permanent jobs at the plant. Prior to construction, Indeck and its partners spent $25 million restoring  a reclaimed brownfield site that was not suitable for many other uses.

Hicks said Indeck was grateful to its partners in southwest Michigan and the city of Niles for helping to complete the project.

“The former mayor [of Niles], the current mayor and the city council all have been a wonderful partner to us,” Hicks said. “We are very happy to be a corporate partner to the southwest Michigan area and look forward to a great relationship over the next 40 years that this plant will be in service.”

By Ryan Yuenger