The commissioners who run the Lansing Board of Water and Light have unanimously approved the construction of a new natural gas plant.
The public utility says the new plant will complement its renewable energy projects and will allow it to close its two remaining coal-fired plants, Eckert in 2020 and Erickson in 2025.
The new plant will be located at the Erickson Power Station facility in Delta Township.
The board approval will allow BWL to issue bonds up to $500 million to finance construction of the new plant, to invest in more renewable energy options, and to make other operational improvements. BWL General Manager Dick Peffley said about $450 million will be used for construction of the new plant.
Peffley said the new plant is expected to go online in three years.
According to Peffley, the result of these efforts will be an 80% reduction in the utility's carbon footprint by 2025.
"Our goal is to have 30% clean energy by 2020 and 40% by 2030," said Peffley.
Opponents of the plan say investing in such a large and expensive fossil fuel plant will limit future adoption of renewable energy technologies, the costs of which are rapidly falling.
"They're making plans way too far into the future which isn't necessary," said Anna Fisher, co-leader of the Lansing Environmental Action Team. "They should really just plan for the energy needs we have now so that we can take advantage of the new emerging technologies in renewable energy and energy efficiency."