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.”