Northern Michigan University Ripley Heating Plant

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Northern Michigan coal proposal blocked

Northern Michigan University, in Marquette, Michigan, is on the shore of Lake Superior, in one of the most spectacular stretches of shoreline on the Great Lakes.

The Ripley Heating Plant has supplied steam to most of the campus using Natural gas with fuel oil back up. The Ripley plant is also a primary node for distribution of power from the Shiras Station municipal generating plant of the Marquette Board of Light and Power. The University, after reviewing several options for an addition to the plant, developed plans for an upgrade that would "increase energy efficiency, increase the dependability of electricity availability; utilize renewable resources, and provide for use of diversified fuel sources".[1]

According the the university, the project would have utilized "a solid fuel (multi-fuel capable) high pressure boiler rated at 120,000-140,000 pounds per hour, capable of burning wood chips, coal and natural gas integrated with a 7-10 megawatt extraction steam turbine capable of producing the required University’s thermal and electrical needs. The plant addition is estimated at $55 million dollars with an annual net savings of up to $1,900,000 annually depending on the mix of fuel."[2]

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has taken comments and issued a response to comments. Pursuant to this process, the DEQ had issued a permit to install. On May 12, 2008, the DEQ issued a permit to authorize construction to go ahead.[3]

On February 20, 2009 the US EPA's Environmental Appeals Board directed[4] the DEQ to be guided by the[5] decision which the EAB recently handed down in the case of the Bonanza Power Plant, near Bonanza, Utah. In that decision the EAB ruled that EPA must consider the global warming effects of CO2 pollution.

An EPA ruling in 2009 effectively revokes NMU's permit to begin construction of the plant.[6]

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  1. "Combined Heat and Power - Ripley Heat Plant" "NMU Board of Trustees, Northern Michigan University, 2009"
  2. Combined Heat and Power - Ripley Heat Plant "NMU Board of Trustees, Northern Michigan University, 2009"
  3. EPA Appeals Board Remands Another Coal-Fired Permit "ENewsUSA, February 20, 2009"
  4. In re:Northern Michigan University Ripley Heating Plant", Environmental Appeals Board United State, February 18, 2009.
  5. Deseret Power decision", eNewsUSA, Ns Environmental Protection Agency November 14, 2008.
  6. EPA order Review of Northern Michigan U. Permit"John Flesher, Associated Press, February 20, 2009"

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