BLP project will improve unit efficiency

Electric customers in the Marquette area are used to receiving the best in service and rates from their supplier, the Marquette Board of Light and Power, and the utility’s operation is about to become even more efficient.

The BLP recently launched a $2.6 million project that entails a “tune up” to its main turbine at the Shiras Steam Plant along Lake Superior in south Marquette.

Included is taking Unit 3, a 44-megawatt steam generator, out of service while it is removed from the plant and sent to Chicago to be refurbished.

Put into service in 1983, Unit 3 provides the majority of the BLP’s electricity output and is being worked on as part of its regular eight-year maintenance cycle. The unit will be down for about four weeks, at a good time between winter’s demand for electricity and the summer air-conditioning season.

The plant’s Unit 2 power generator, a 20 MW unit, will pick up the slack while Unit 3 is down, although BLP officials said the utility will have to buy some power on the open market.

BLP officials said the tune-up will make Unit 3 run more efficiently, thus using less coal to produce its electricity output.

The utility also has three hydro-electric stations – including one at the rebuilt Tourist Park Basin – that can produce enough electricity to power 3,000 homes. The city-owned BLP has 16,500 customers in the city and surrounding townships.

Another project the BLP has under way is a cost-of-service study, which is the second one in three decades and should be completed by the middle of this year, according to Executive Director Paul Kitti.

In operation for more than 100 years, the BLP has provided not only excellent service to its customers but also some of the lowest electric rates in the region.

With the generator upgrade and cost study, we hope the service and rates remain just as pleasing to BLP customers long into the future.