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Natural gas plant to pump money into Niles

NILES, Mich. --- A $1 billion project is heading to Niles that’ll focus on natural gas, but some neighbors are concerned with the safety impacts.

Indeck Energy Services Inc. will begin constructing their Niles plant in August 2018. David Hicks, vice president of business development, said their only issue is couple easements owned by AMTRAK they need to settle before building can start.

“This project will provide clean, high efficient power generation to the southwest Michigan and Midwest area,” Hicks said.

Check out some pictures of the proposed plant below:

Indeck Energy Services Inc., according to their website, is designed to replace older coal fired plants with cleaner, natural gas. U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) and Niles Mayor Nick Shelton went with Hicks on a tour of the 30-acre plot.

“It seems like I’ve been thinking about this,” Rep. Upton said. “It seems like things are on track.”

The project is in its final stages after the state of Michigan approved more than $140 million for the project. Hicks said now they are looking for private investors to help cover the rest.

Economic impact in Niles

Mayor Shelton said he is excited to get the project moving forward. The natural gas plant is projected to bring $25 million in tax revenue to Niles and many other job opportunities.

“Looking at 300 to 600 jobs during the construction phase which is really exciting,” Shelton said.

After construction, the plant will add more than 20 new jobs for daily operations with the annual incomes of $80,000.

Neighbor concerns

Some neighbors who live nearby said their main concerns are if the plant will lower their property value, and also, the plant’s environmental impact.

“You know we always are for more jobs and you know the economy to be stronger,” said Kyle Solloway, who lives blocks away from the proposed plant. “But it’s a concern to a lot of people around here just for the costs and like I said the safety of it.”

Indeck Energy Services Inc. was issued an air permit in January 2017. This permit is necessary for any company that produces “waste gasses or particles that are released to the air,” according to the state of Michigan.

“If it’s going to be close to us it’s definitely going to be a concern of mine,” Solloway said.

Mayor Shelton said there were concerns raised from other people, but said the overwhelming majority of people were excited to get the project going.

“This is not being parachuted into a long, stable neighborhood that’s going to disrupt normal traffic,” Rep. Upton said. “At the end of the day it will provide the revenue a city like Niles needs to move it forward.”

The plant is expected to be completed in March 2021.

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