Manistee area residents voice concern over new
By Don Reid
The Daily Reporter
MANISTEE -- The first decision on where Coldwater might
get its future electrical power was delayed last week
after a three hour public hearing.
The Manistee Planning Commission's public hearing on
the controversial issue of building a 425-megawatt coal-fired
electric plant on the shore of Manistee Lake did not hear
everyone. There was not nearly enough time for the 120
people who signed up to speak their minds about the proposal.
More than 500 filled the Manistee Middle School's gym
and overflowed into the hallway during Thursday's public
"I don''t know if we'll even complete it next week,
but everybody will get a chance. I want that understood,"
said planning commission chairman Roger Yoder.
Michigan South Central Power Agency (MSCPA), which includes
Coldwater and Union City as members, along with 14 other
cities who belong to the Michigan Public Power Association
(MPPA), are in the second phase of planning to construct
a new plant to meet power needs after 2008.
Failure to secure a new source of power by the time a
contract for power ends in 2008 could force MSCPA to buy
on the open market which could ultimately raise local
The prime proposal is a power plant which would cost
about $700 million to build and would burn about 1.8 million
tons of coal a year to produce electricity. It would be
built in association with Tondu Corporation of Houston.
Consultants say the Manistee project would provide the
cheapest of any of the four plans considered.
Some people support the plant because the company promises
good-paying jobs and economic benefit for the community.
Others oppose the plant because it would increase the
amount of coal burned in the county and could cause environmental
Municipalities do not pay property taxes, so representatives
of the city and Manistee Saltworks have been negotiating
a possible community service fee the company would pay
in lieu of taxes
Tondu Corporation president Joe Tondu said Manistee fits
the project needs because it has a port so coal can be
brought to the plant by Great Lakes freighters; Manistee
Lake water that can be used in the cooling process; has
close access to an electrical power transmission grid;
and it has an industrial site with 50 acres.
The county board of commissioners now opposes construction
of the plant. The commission took action earlier this
week to state its opposition, months after taking action
to support construction of the plant.
The Manistee County Economic Development Commission and
a representative of the Michigan Economic Development
Corporation said the state supports use of the existing
industrial sites for use by new plants, rather than building
the new plants on green land.
DEQ is expected to approve the air quality permits for
the plan. Representatives of the Sierra Club and other
environmental groups oppose the project because of air
quality and fear of harm to water quality of Lake Manistee.