BLP celebrates future energy needs at groundbreaking

MARQUETTE — From construction of a new hospital, a new municipal service center and renovating the former orphanage, things are changing in the City of Marquette. And another one of those changes began Tuesday afternoon.

Officials with the Board of Light and Power held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Marquette Energy Center. The energy center will be located on Wright Street, right next to the BLP offices.

In the coming months, three 17–megawatt natural gas engines will be installed at the facility. The $65 million project was approved by the Marquette City Commission last October.

The energy center will take care of Marquette’s energy needs for years to come.

“These units are 99.9% reliable. You’ve got a perfect system,” said Paul Kitti, BLP Executive Director. “Our distribution, transmission system, substations are state of the art. They’re solid. We are going to continue to invest in them, continue to invest in this and these units.”

“There’s a lot of building going on in Marquette and you got to have guaranteed electricity and power to attract companies,” said Marquette Mayor Dave Campana. “With the Board of Light and Power project, we’re going to have that.”

“Think in terms of your car. Your car is high performance above 1,200 RPM. Wartsila’s engines run at 514 RPM, which means lesser maintenance on the units,” said Gary Routhier of Wartsila North America, Inc.

In order to help with the costs of this project, BLP customers will see a 30% increase in their electric bills beginning in October. The energy center is expected to be fully up and running by next spring.