by KATELYN LARESE
Friday, July 26,2013
For The Macomb Daily and The Voice News
Consumers Energy on Friday unveiled a $175 million natural-gas system upgrade recently completed at its Ray Compressor Station in Armada.
About 175 people, including many federal, state and local officials, attended the company’s dedication at the Omo Road site.
The company said the enhanced facility will continue to serve as a competitive advantage in the state, benefiting customers and employees.
The project included the installation of five new engines that produce as much horsepower as 51 Corvettes to drive compressors to place natural gas into storage or move it through the station for eventual delivery.
Construction of the plant was in response to increasing demand for natural gas due to a growing residential customer base and a rebounding Michigan economy.
U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, state Rep. Ken Goike, Assistant Macomb County Executive Melissa Roy and Armada Township Supervisor John Paterek were among the guests who spoke at Friday morning’s event.
Miller discussed how natural gas can help the United States become less reliant on other countries for fuel sources.
“It really is a very environmentally sensitive product,” she said. “I predict in our lifetimes that you are going to see a principle way to power our vehicles is going to be natural gas. I really think that’s coming and it can’t come too soon. Energy security means national security and I see (Consumers Energy) as being an integral player in that.”
Natural gas is an increasingly popular fuel of choice among all sectors because of its competitive price and environmental advantages, according to Consumers Energy.
Goike echoed Miller’s sentiments regarding the importance of natural gas as a future fuel source.
“I have constituents in this area calling because of what has been going on with the drilling and doing the fracking in the soil, and everybody’s up in arms because they’re not informed; they don’t understand,” he said. “Fracking has been going on for almost 60 years and its safe. This company follows guidelines on everything that they do.
“Natural gas is our future. If we do not use fossil fuels, the world is going to become polluted with fossil fuel. But let’s use it responsibly and let’s do it in a safe manner.”
Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel available, according to information provided by Consumers Energy. It produces less carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, which are attributed with greenhouse gases and acid rain.
All construction involved in the project was done by Michigan workers and included 12 local labor unions. The project took three years and 850,000 hours to complete.
During the construction phase, many Armada businesses received economic benefits from the project’s temporary work force. Ten full-time employees staff the Ray Compressor Station.
Paterek expressed his appreciation for the company’s efforts during the event.
“The investments Consumer’s Energy has made locally in our community has certainly helped our tax base,” he said. “It’s an amazing thing when you go out here to see what these folks have done back there; it’s a beautiful facility. But more than that, it was the commitment of Consumer’s Energy — its staff and employees — to help our town, to go downtown and patronize our businesses.”
The company expects the Ray Compressor enhancement to generate an additional $2 million in property taxes.
The Ray station is considered the “crown jewel” of Consumer’s natural gas system. It is one of the largest gas storage systems in the United States.
Its storage and delivery capabilities allow the plant to store natural gas and deliver it when needed to ensure reliable service for nearly 700,000 customers in the state.
The Ray site measures about 1,600 acres and can store up to 43 billion cubic feet of natural gas in naturally occurring porous rock formations underneath the ground.