May 29, 2024

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Electric Department

Marshall's Electric History



The City of Marshall entered the municipal electric and utility ownership and operation in 1893 by acquiring the hydroelectric plant from the Perrin Estate. A bond issue for $50,000 was floated via a special election held by City Council with 40 odd votes against and more than 500 for. Of the total amount, $17,000 was paid for the purchase of the existing facility. The remainder of the bond paid for construction, acquisition of a new dam, two new waterwheel generators and two sixty horsepower street light arc machines.

From this meager beginning, it is claimed that the City of Marshall utility system is the third oldest hydroelectric utility system operating under its original ownership in the United States.

The demand for electricity had grown to a point that it was necessary to obtain additional power from an outside source. In 1906, a contract was born between the City of Marshall and Commonwealth Power Company, which later became Consumers Power Company. Two new larger water wheels of 175 kva and 250 kva were purchased and installed for $10,620 through a bond issue in 1910. In 1911, the Brush Company of Cleveland Ohio added a new addition to the existing plant on South Marshall Avenue at the cost of $14,000; it is listed in the Historic American Engineering Record. Two more water wheels were purchased and installed in 1919 one of which replaced the smaller of the two installed in 1910. In 1928, a larger water wheel, generator and exciter were installed, replacing the remaining 1910 wheel. The larger water wheel is currently in use today along with one of the 1919 versions. The other 1919 version is currently not in service but still remains as part of our plant.

Inasmuch as the total flow of the river had been utilized, it was decided to purchase two 550 horsepower, 400 kW Nordberg diesel-electric generating units. These units were installed in a new building built to the north of the Hydro Plant and were placed in service in 1922 at which time the contract with Commonwealth Power Company was discontinued.

As the demand for electricity continued to grow additional diesel and dual fuel generating units were purchased and installed along with numerous modifications which included:

  • 1936 - One new Nordberg diesel engine, rated at 1,250 H.P. and 860 kW

  • 1942 - An addition was added to the west end of the existing power plant and one new Nordberg diesel engine rated at 1,500 H.P. and 1,000 kW was installed. This is the #4 Engine.

  • 1948 - One new Nordberg diesel engine rated at 2,400 H.P. and 1,875 kW was installed. This is the #5 Engine today.

  • 1951 - One new Nordberg Radial diesel engine rated at 1,600 H.P. and 1,170 kW was installed to replace one of the 1922 Nordberg's. This unit was removed in 1980.

  • 1953 - One new Nordberg diesel engine rated at 1,600 H.P. and 1,130 kW was installed to replace one of the 1922 Nordberg’s. This is the #2 Engine today.

  • 1973 - One new Fairbanks-Morse 12 cylinder opposed piston engine and generator set was installed and rated 2,070 kW at 2,880 H.P. This is the #3 Engine today. This unit replaced the 1936 Nordberg.

  • 1978 - One new Colt - Pielstik 16 cylinder dual fuel engine and generator set is installed and rated at 5,711 kW at 8,000 H.P. This is the #6 Engine today. The original bonded debt was $2,650,000.00 (10-01-76) with debt retirement in 2005.

In 1978, Marshall’s peak electric load was 14,600-kw, serving 3,690 customers, 701 streetlights, and 270 security lights.

In 1979, the City of Marshall and four nearby communities formed a joint agency, called The Michigan South Central Power Agency (MSCPA) and installed a 55 MW steam powered generator in Litchfield, Michigan. An upgrade was completed in 1999 that increased the capacity to 65 MW.

In May of 2001, nine Caterpillar generating units were installed at Coldwater’s State Street Substation for an additional capacity of 16 MW. In addition, MSCPA purchased nine used Caterpillar generating units that were previously installed at the Garfield substation in Coldwater for Consumers Energy. Three of these units were installed in Marshall.

In August 2000, four new 20,000-gallon fuel storage tanks were installed at the Power Plant. Each tank is equipped with a continuous electronic monitoring and inventory system. The electric actuated valves for fill lines and suction lines are controlled with the existing SCADA system.

posted 06-04-2010 [Electric Department]