Advance Notice: Briefs

Lansing smokestacks ‘iconic,’ but city moves to cleaner power

By: - March 28, 2019 2:02 pm

The Board of Water and Light’s three smokestacks in Lansing | Susan J. Demas

Updated and corrected, 9:10 p.m. 3/29/19.

Lansing’s famous smokestacks may have become an enduring part of the city’s legacy and branding, but they are fated to the dustbin of industrial legacy — and the fetish made of them by city leaders and entrepreneurs.

City of Lansing’s new logo | City of Lansing

A new $61,000* city branding campaign features the three smokestacks as a central part of a new Lansing logo. But plans to shut down the coal-fired plant for which they’re used and shift government buildings to renewable energy are already underway.

The Board of Water and Light (BWL), Lansing’s public utility, plans to shut down the city’s remaining coal plants in favor of a $500 million gas-fired facility. Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has also announced a plan to power government buildings with renewable energy.

The city, meanwhile, is selling T-shirts and flags with a new “L” logo sporting Lansing’s three smokestacks: Wynken, Blyken and Nod, named by LSJ readers in 1981 after the Eugene Field poem.

BWL, which currently operates the city’s coal-fired Eckert power plant, donated $10,000 to the “Lansing Forward” branding campaign, the Lansing State Journal reported. Another $10,000 came from Dewpoint, an information technology consulting firm, according to the LSJ.*

Andy Schor

The expensive new branding follows the popularity of “517” — the city’s telephone area code — t-shirts first adorned with their silhouette.

Officials at the utility have described the smokestacks as “iconic” and say they will stay even after one coal-fired plant is decommissioned by the end of 2020.

The remaining coal-fired Erickson Power Station will be shut down in 2025, according to BWL spokesman Stephen Serkaian.*

If adopted, Schor’s renewable plan would make Lansing “the first city in the state of Michigan to power all of its government buildings using energy from 100 percent renewable sources,” his office said.

The proposal will be presented to the Lansing City Council as part of his city budget recommendation, and the council will have until May 20 to approve or reject the proposal, said Schor spokeswoman Valerie Marchand.

Lansing City Hall | Susan J. Demas

“I am thrilled to announce that the city, in partnership with BWL, is taking the necessary first steps in addressing climate change by purchasing renewable energy for all city-owned buildings,” Schor said in a statement on Monday.

Under the mayor’s proposal, Lansing would buy renewable energy credits from the city’s utility and has started a “Climate Action Plan” to create energy reduction and efficiency goals, according to the city.

Correction: This story has been corrected for the amount of the city’s branding campaign, the amount of the donations to the campaign and the number of coal-fired plants.

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Michael Gerstein
Michael Gerstein

Michael Gerstein is a former Advance reporter covering the Governor's office, criminal justice and the environment.