SHARE

The Hillsdale Board of Public Util­ities plans to spend $1.2 million to update the gen­er­ators at Baw Beese Lake and replace the town sewage treatment plant in order to have reliable emer­gency power.

“The engines at Baw Beese Lake haven’t been operated for two years,” Michael Barber, interim Director for the Board of Public Util­ities said. “So we have to go through and make them mechan­i­cally oper­a­tional and meet the new Envi­ron­mental Pro­tection Agency stan­dards for emis­sions control.”

The new stan­dards are driven mostly by the National Emission Standard for Haz­ardous Air Pol­lu­tants ruling and Clean Water Act. Updates to the Baw Beese Lake gen­er­ators will ensure they comply with these new stan­dards.

“Instead of using of the lake for cooling, I’ll have to put in cooling towers,” Barber said. “I’ll have to put in emission control cat­a­lysts with mon­i­toring devices on the exhausts.”

The two gen­er­ators at Baw Beese Lake are used as sources of emer­gency power for Hillsdale.

“They allow us to provide some power to the city in case we were to lose all power so that we can maintain the hos­pital, sewage treatment plant, water facility, police, and fire rescue,” Barber said.

If needed, the gen­er­ators can power about half the city, according to City Manager David Mackie.

The three-year project to update the gen­er­ators is esti­mated to cost around $1.2 million, funded by the BPU.

“We’ve iden­tified the mechanical issues with the engines, so it won’t be prob­lematic. It will just be time con­suming getting the parts off and getting them replaced or repaired,” Barber said. “There’s just so much to take care of. That’s why the project is so mon­e­tarily involved.”

However, repairing the gen­er­ators costs less than replacing them.

“We looked at the cost of replacing our fuel oil [and] natural gas units with just straight natural gas units, and to put new units in it’s about $1.2 million per megawatt,” Barber said. “The two engines I’m fixing will output 11 megawatts. So, simple math will tell you it’s really not cost-effective to build new units.”

In addition to repairing the gen­er­ators at the Baw Beese Lake facility, the BPU also plans to replace the emer­gency gen­er­ators for the sewage treatment plant, to prevent more sewage over­flows like the one into St. Joseph River due to a power outage in July. This overflow released nearly 70,000 gallons of sewage into the river, according to Hillsdale Daily News.

“The gen­er­ators at the sewage treatment plant are specif­i­cally designed for if the power feeding the lines to the sewage treatment plant goes out,” Mackie said. “We would have the gen­er­ators on site that could be powered up so the sewer treatment plant could con­tinue serving the city without overflow into the river and the envi­ron­mental issues involved with that.”