March 18 2013 12:00 AM

Construction begins on Board of Water & Light’s REO Town facility

Construction cranes begin work on the BWL's new facility Friday morning. Photo courtesy of Mark Nixon, Board of Water & Light.
Friday, Aug. 19 — Construction for the Board of Water & Light’s $182 million cogeneration facility in REO Town began today.

Construction crews tested the installation of concrete pilings, which will form the foundation for the new facility. The one-foot-wide pilings are installed in a vertical hole that is drilled into the ground until the drill reaches bedrock — about 45 feet below the surface. In all, more than 900 pilings will be installed to support the facility, according to a BWL statement released today.

BWL hopes to use the drilling method, as opposed to driving the pilings into the ground similar to how a hammer drives a nail. The drilling method should create less noise and be less noticeable for nearby residents.

“Today is a true milestone for the BWL’s most ambitious project ever,” General Manager J. Peter Lark said in a statement. “When you see large cranes looming over Lansing’s skyline, you know big things are happening.”

The 18-month construction phase for the facility should create more than 1,000 local jobs. The facility will go on line in 2013 and house 180 BWL employees.

The project has also helped the city bring in federal grant money to improve the area around the plant. On Wednesday, the city announced it received a new grant for over $326,000 from the federal Department of Transportation, which will go toward enhancing Washington Avenue through REO Town.

The facility is the BWL’s first natural gas facility, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent compared to the existing coal-fired plant, helping the BWL meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. The coal plant will shut down once the REO Town facility opens.