In building its first natural-gas-fired steam and electric generation plant, Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) took care to ensure the facility blended with REO Town, a historic community in Lansing. The owner also worked with team members to mask sound generated by the facility.
As-built arched windows and exterior brick and cornice work belie the operations within, which include combined-cycle cogeneration capable of producing 300,000 lb of steam per hour and 110 MW of electrical power.
The facility deploys natural gas to generate steam and electricity via a two-step process, beginning when a turbine burns natural gas to directly turn an electric generator. It then captures hot exhaust to produce steam to turn a second electric generator or to service steam-heat-dependent customers.
The result is one of the cleanest and most efficient plants in the U.S., according to project team members. Compared with an existing coal-fired steam plant, BWL slashed greenhouse emissions by 50%, mercury and sulfur dioxide emissions by nearly 100% and oxides of nitrogen by more than 85%. Use of natural gas also allowed BWL to avoid burning 351,000 tons of coal a year.
Team members introduced several other sustainable systems to the facility, including LED light fixtures, low-flow plumbing, wind turbines, a solar array, five electric-vehicle charging stations and a hydrogen fuel cell for distributed load management.
Because the project was fast-tracked, team members developed strong communication channels to ensure the evolving design conformed to budget and schedule constraints.
Among other tactics, they relied on continuous updates of construction documents to match specifications to materials.
The $78-million facility is the first new utility powerplant constructed in Michigan in 25 years and the first constructed by BWL in 40 years.
A related "project within the project" restored the 111-year-old Grand Trunk Western Railroad depot located on the property.
REO Town Headquarters and Cogeneration Facility, Lansing, Mich.
Owner Lansing Board of Water and Light
GC The Christman Co., Lansing
Designers Burns and Roe Enterprises Inc., Oradell, N.J.; C2AE, Lansing; Studio Intrigue, Lansing