Lansing Set in concrete New $182 million green energy plant taking shape

By Scott Davis

Lansing State Journal

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Gary Shannon was like a master chef, proudly watching crews pour concrete as it resembled brownie mix filling a 13,000-square-foot baking pan.

Crews on a recent day carefully directed the flow of concrete from the 200-foot arm of a concrete pumper as they poured the first portion of the ground floor of the Lansing Board of Water & Light's co-generation facility being constructed on Washington Avenue near South Street.

They'll finish the concrete work in three other phases during the next few weeks.

It will culminate in a 67,000-square-foot slab of concrete that is 1-1/2 times bigger than a football field, said Mark Nixon, BWL spokesman. He said crews also will begin to erect steel girders for the structure that will reach seven stories.

"It's like eating an elephant. You have to do it one bite at a time," said Shannon, senior project superintendent for the Lansing-based Christman Co., which is overseeing the $182 million project.

Shannon said it was no easy task to pull off such a major concrete pour, despite weeks of planning and unusually warm temperatures in the low 40s.

The main ingredient -- 2,600 tons of concrete -- was supplied by Builders Redi-Mix of Lansing, which mixed up the substance batch by batch during the day as it delivered 130 truckloads to the site, Shannon said.

He added he didn't believe the job presented problems for Builders Redi-Mix, other than increasing its volume for the day. Pouring the concrete lasted nearly eight hours.

The concrete was fed into a wood-framed perimeter by the concrete pumper, as a dozen or more crew members spread the concrete and evened out the surface.

"This is fun. This is one of those jobs you get to see the fruits of your labor," Shannon said. "This powerhouse will provide power for an entire community."

Despite the size of BWL project, Shannon, who has been in the construction industry for 36 years, has worked on concrete projects many times bigger, mostly parking garages, he said.

The new plant will be the BWL's first natural gas-fired energy generation facility; the site also will house BWL's headquarters. Steam will be created in the cogeneration process, providing power to the utility's 225 steam customers in and around downtown Lansing.

Nixon said the new facility will begin producing power in July 2013.

The cogeneration facility will help the BWL achieve its goal of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020 -- surpassing proposed federal regulations that require a 17 percent reduction by 2020.

It's also meant to reduce air pollutants such as mercury, and compounds of sulfur and nitrogen.

Published: Wed, Feb 29, 2012

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