Luce County Industrial Air – Pentland Township, Luce County
The Luce County Industrial Park is 298 acres in size and is roughly 52% occupied. Sizes of lots varies from 1 acre to 40 acres. State Highway M028 is less than 2 miles away, and the Luce County Airport is located about 3 miles away. Nearest railroad access is north approximately two miles. Service provided by CN.
Utilities for the park include Pentland Township for water and sewer, SEMCO for natural gas, Cloverland Electric Co-op for electric, and AT&T for phone and internet.
According to FEMA, the park site is not within any floodplains. The National Wetland Inventory shows no areas in or around the park that contain wetlands. The Michigan Natural Features Inventory provides a listing of rare and endangered species by County. Luce County has 43 different plant and animal species listed under the MNFI. Because of the sensitivity of specific locations of these species, the MNFI has created the Biological Rarity Index, which provides a ranking (high, moderate, low) of finding a rare or endangered species in a certain location by Public Land Survey System (PLSS) Sections. At the Luce County site, no areas around or in the park are listed as having any endangered species.
The EPA’s ERMA (Environmental Response Management Application) provides data on sensitive habitats and species. Data for the Ironwood Park does not exist, which draws the conclusion that no sensitive habits are in the area. According to the Michigan DEQ, no sites of environmental contamination (PA201 sites) and no underground storage tanks are present within the park.
Population (U.S. Census, 2010): 2,674 (Pentland Township), 6,631 (Luce County)
Unemployment Rate: 8.4% (Luce County – MI BLM, 2014)
% of population high school graduate or higher: 86.0
% of population bachelor degree or higher: 1.9
% of population with a disability: 21.3
% of population that are veterans: 8.8
The Industrial Park falls under Luce County Zoning, and is in an Industrial Zoning District. The County would have to change the zoning or develop a text amendment to allow “energy generation,” as this type of use or similar is not specifically identified. Setbacks are 50 feet minimum setback, 10 foot minimum side yard width, 25 foot minimum rear yard depth, 50% maximum lot coverage. A formal site plan process is not spelled out in the current zoning ordinance. An application for approval is required, and requires a property sketch indicating the use of the property and any structures. The County should add a formal site plan review process for complex developments.
The Park is doing well despite its isolated location. The three largest energy consumers are all proactive and clearly demonstrate the viability of U.P. businesses. Under the Cloverland Electric Cooperative, their electric rates are quite reasonable. All companies have taken actions to make their operations as efficient as possible. The biggest issue uncovered at this Park was the unknown capacity. With three currently large electric consumers, remaining capacity is unknown and a limiting factor for growth. As a Park nears its capacity, expansion to additional capacity is expensive and could be the primary deterrent to future development.
The greatest opportunity in this Park appears to be the under-utilized of Banks Hardwood steam plant. There may be opportunities to provide low cost heat to a nearby facility.
Energy Efficiency Retrofits
Businesses in the park demonstrate a proactive to energy efficiency, having already realized savings through some “low hanging fruit” energy efficiency opportunities like LED lighting retrofits. When a business replaces existing equipment or expands its facility, some marginal savings may be achieved through newer energy efficient equipment.
Low energy rates and very low demand rates make any creative application of natural gas co-gen (CHP) systems currently unviable at this park. For businesses with uninterrupted power supply requirements paramount to their operations, small natural gas backup generator options are recommended.
After savings through energy efficiency retrofits are prioritized and realized, Solar PV remains a viable option for many businesses in this park. For the record, interviews indicated that many businesses are reluctant to assume the risk of making large capacity investments in alternative generation solutions in the face of a rapidly evolving legislative and policy landscape.
While large resolution wind maps provided by NREL indicate that Luce County region has poor to marginal capacity for small scale wind adoption, the industrial park does experience regular moderate gusty winds. Looking into the future, an anemometer study could reveal micro wind patterns demonstrating a stronger capacity for wind adoption in this park. Presently however, many businesses are reluctant to assume the risk of making large capacity investments in alternative generation solution.
Geothermal is currently not implemented in any business in this park. At historic low gas rates, Geothermal is likely to remain not viable for all business in this park.
Biomass is currently implemented in this park, with a large wood processing facility reuses wood-waste for steam production. A small quantity of excess wood is given away for heating local schools and homes. Looking into the future, this business can investigate electricity self-generation by augmenting their steam plant with generation capacity and running the steam plant at full capacity. Biomass is unlikely to be a viable option for other businesses in this park.
Industrial Waste Heat Recapture
Industrial manufacturing facilities are likely to realize some cost savings from capturing excess heat. Some businesses already implemented ambient air cooling technology, reducing their energy consumption by partially circulating naturally cold outside air during winter months.