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Wolverine Power Cooperative recently announced a proposal for a $100 million natural gas-based power plant in Elmira Township, which is expected to provide electricity in Northern Michigan and the rest of the state.
The proposal calls for a plant to be located east of Elmira on M-32, about a quarter of a mile east of Flott Road. The entire operation would come with a cost in excess of $100 million and sit on 170 acres of land — two 40-acre parcels, one 80-acre parcel and a 10-acre parcel.
The plant would help provide electricity all over the state and possibly replace existing power sources, but the biggest benefit to Otsego County would be a substantial increase in tax revenues from the operation, said Wolverine Power officials.
The various details of the potential plant and the proposal were discussed recently when Wolverine Power officials including Eric Baker, president and CEO and Ken Bradstreet, government affairs consultant, met with community and county leaders at the Sugar Bowl Restaurant in Gaylord. Bradstreet said, “Everyone who lives in Elmira Township is a member of Great Lakes Energy. As the wholesale provider for Great Lakes Energy, everyone (in Elmira Township) will be benefiting from Wolverine Power.”
John Burt, Otsego County administrator, said a $100 million plant would bring approximately $200,000 during its first year to the Otsego County general fund. However, because the plant would be mostly personal property, that number would depreciate in following years. He said this plant would bring revenues to the tax base and bring electricity to Northern Michigan for years to come.
The proposal for the Elmira Township power plant is considered to be a result of a coal-based power plant falling through. Bradstreet said the effect this proposed plant will leave on the surrounding environment is minimal since natural gas-based power plants are usually very efficient and clean.
Minimal noise, lower emissions
The operation itself would not be able to be seen from the road and sound would be minimal. Bradstreet said traffic on M-32 would be louder than the noise emitted from the plant. There would be small nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions from the plant, which are similar to those seen at other plants. But harmful gases like those found at coal-based plants, such as mercury and sulpher dioxide, are not likely to be introduced to the atmosphere.
Wolverine, headquartered in Cadillac, is familiar with the area, with previously established operations, including a plant on Milbocker Road in Gaylord. Baker said the proposed project in Elmira Township would use the same technology as the Gaylord plant but would be more sophisticated, supply more power, would have more efficiency and feature a different design.
The next step in the process is for Wolverine to meet with the Elmira Township Planning Commission, followed by a meeting with the Otsego County Planning Commission. Wolverine is seeking a conditional rezoning, changing the land as it is now from F-R, forest recreation, to B-2, general business zoning.