The Finnish technology group has been given a full notice to proceed with the delivery from the WEC Energy Group subsidiary. Wärtsilä had announced the contract for the gas turbines in June.

UMERC is investing a total of $275m for the two natural gas-fueled power facilities which it will build, own and operate. The plants will use electric generators known as reciprocating internal combustion engines.

Delivery of the engines by Wärtsilä is slated to take place in the latter half of 2018, while the two power plants are anticipated to be commissioned in 2019. Construction of the power plants is likely to begin by the year end or early 2018.

Located in the Negaunee and Baraga townships, the two gas-fired plants will meet the power consumption needs of nearly 40,000 residential consumers along with a large mining operation.

The new power plants equipped with Wärtsilä technology will replace an existing coal-fired power plant. They are anticipated to deliver baseload and intermittent power.

Wärtsilä says that the ability of its plants to react quickly to the fluctuating demand from the local operations was a crucial factor for UMERC.

Wärtsilä Energy Solutions US & Canada regional director Mikael Backman said: “Wärtsilä’s Smart Power Generation solution will enable efficiency to be maintained across a broad range of output.

“It requires very limited use of water for cooling and the environmental footprint is small, plus the modularized solution means that additional capacity can easily be accommodated if needed.”

UMERC plans to retire its coal-fired 431MW Presque Isle Power Plant after the two new gas-fired plants begin commercial operations.

The Presque Isle Power Plant with currently five units in operation was originally built in 1955. UMERC is not expecting to operate it any longer than 2020.

Image: Illustration of UMERC’s gas-fired power plant in Michigan. Photo: courtesy of Wärtsilä.