New 1.1-GW GE-Powered Gas-Fired Plant Enters Service in Michigan

A new $1.1-billion natural gas-fired power plant, built by Kiewit and featuring equipment from General Electric (GE), has entered service in southwest Michigan. The Indeck Niles Energy Center in Niles, a community just north of South Bend, Indiana, will provide 1,100 MW of generation capacity.

Indeck Niles LLC, a joint venture among Indeck Energy Services along with its South Korean partners, Korea Southern Power Co. (KOSPO) and DL Energy, formerly known as Daelim Energy, chose Atlanta, Georgia-based PIC Group Inc. as the plant’s operations and maintenance provider. Indeck, based in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, is a developer of thermal and renewable energy power generation projects across the Upper Midwest and U.S. Northeast. KOSPO is South Korea’s largest electric utility.

The Niles plant features two GE 7HA.02 gas turbines, powering two GE-supplied H65 generators. The facility also includes an STF-D600 steam turbine powering a H84 generator, and two heat recovery steam generators that are triple pressure reheat drum. The plant also includes GE’s Mark* VIe Distributed Control System software, along with services to support the availability and reliability of the plant, according to GE. Auxiliary equipment installed at the power plant includes dry low-NOx burners integrated with selective catalytic reduction technology for controlling the NOx emissions.

GE on July 11 said it expects to provide parts, repairs, and other services for the plant for at least 25 years.

Indeck officials said the company developed the plant to replace power generation in the region that was lost after the decommissioning of older coal-fired and nuclear power plants, including the Palisades Nuclear Plant, located about 35 miles north of Niles. The 800-MW Palisades plant was taken offline on May 20.

Lower Emissions

“Natural gas-fired generators have the lowest carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of all fossil power generation fuels. Indeck Niles, a natural gas-fired combined cycle plant, has roughly 67% of the CO2 emissions of a similarly-sized coal plant, and lower emissions levels for other pollutants” said Michael DuBois, Indeck’s vice president of Project Development. “GE’s HA gas turbines are among the largest and the most-efficient gas turbines in the world, and we look forward to making a meaningful, positive contribution to reducing carbon emissions in Michigan. Equally important, we are proud that Indeck Niles transformed an unproductive site into an economic engine that creates jobs, spurs economic development and generates revenues for the City of Niles, its residents, and the local area.”

The 1,100-MW Indeck Niles Energy Center in Niles, Michigan, is providing natural gas-fired power generation to replace output lost by the retirement of some coal-fired and nuclear power plants. Courtesy: GE Gas Power

“Michigan has cut power sector emissions, and this project represents efforts to reduce the sector’s carbon intensity to be on track for the 2050 carbon neutrality target,” Eric Gray, president and CEO for GE Gas Power Americas, told POWER. “We are honored to have taken part of this project with Kiewit to help Indeck Niles meet the energy needs of Michigan’s communities, and help transition towards a more energy efficient, reliable, and lower carbon future.”

The plant is sited on a 373-acre parcel just north of Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport on the northeast side of Niles. The site, which years ago was used by railroads, had been mostly vacant for several years, and unused due to environmental contamination. Indeck and its partners in the gas-fired plant paid $59 million to clean the site. Officials said that cost would be reimbursed by the city through its property tax collections tied to the project.

City officials characterized the power plant as a “win-win” for Niles, not only for its power generation but also because it makes use of what was a brownfield site, creating jobs and supporting the region’s tax base. An Indeck official earlier said the power plant will create 21 permanent jobs. Officials said more than 500 jobs were created during the plant’s construction, which took about three years to complete.

“The Niles Energy Center will have a positive, lasting impact on the community by reducing carbon emissions and providing reliable power,” said Chris Turnbull, president of Kiewit Power Constructors Co. “We are proud to have served as the EPC [engineering, construction, procurement] contractor and to have worked in close partnership with Indeck and GE in delivering this state-of-the-art facility.”

Gas Tops in Michigan Generation

Power generation from natural gas in Michigan topped coal-fired output for the first time in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The agency has said that gas-fired generation accounts for about one-third of the state’s electricity production. The state’s two remaining nuclear power plants, the Fermi station in Monroe, and the Cook facility in Bridgman, supply just under 30% of the state’s electricity. Coal-fired generation’s share has fallen to about 27%, with renewable energy—mostly from wind power—supplying the rest, according to EIA.

“Gas power plays a critical role in facilitating coal-to gas transition, but it is also crucial to provide the necessary power to balance the variable nature of renewables and help ensure system reliability at all times,” said Gray. “Our 7HA.02 gas turbines, which can burn up to 20% hydrogen by volume in the gas stream currently, with plans to transition to 100% hydrogen over the next decade, represent a highly efficient energy solution to achieve Michigan’s emission reduction plans.”

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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