How a small plant power company transformed a struggling city
By DAVID WOLFFAAREN, Associated Press plant power: A small, local power company was born in Detroit, where a handful of small industrial companies built up the city’s electricity grid and were able to turn a profit.
They became a model for the nation.
Now the company, United Power & Service, is turning its attention to building a power grid that would rival that of Detroit.
The company is using a model of electricity that is much simpler and cheaper than the traditional electric grid that has been built over the last century.
It is called a plant power system, and it is powered by just a few pieces of equipment.
They are solar panels, battery packs and an electric motor.
Each piece can store about one kilowatt of energy.
The whole thing weighs about one pound.
The idea is to bring the same kind of scale and flexibility to the energy market that companies have used to power their own grids for years.
But for some companies, it can be difficult to keep costs low.
A few years ago, the utility company Edison Electric Institute said it had seen a sharp rise in energy prices, and the utility, which owns the Chicago Public Power District, recently announced it was raising prices on its customers by 30 percent to offset those costs.
That would be a significant price drop for most customers, but the company is doing it to protect its business.
United Power says the new grid will be cheaper to build, operate and maintain than its traditional grid.
The plant power business will grow to 10 to 15 companies, which means the total capacity of power plants is expected to grow by roughly 30 percent annually, UnitedPower CEO David Wilson said.
The company is developing a plan for building a grid that will be similar to the grid that was in place in the 1930s, when General Electric was the largest power producer in the country.
The idea is that it will be a more efficient, more cost-effective way to supply electricity.
It also would be cheaper, Wilson said, because it will require fewer buildings and power plants to generate power.
United Power has about 15 plants, and each one is a small unit that is capable of generating one kilo of power.
It takes about six weeks to build a typical power plant.
The plants are connected together by wires that run in pairs to a central control room where electrical engineers and power-plant technicians run a computer to control all of the plants.
They also use sensors and computers to monitor the plant’s operation.
Wilson said they are using about 20,000 watts of power from the plants to power a single light bulb.
UnitedPower is working with a consortium of utilities that includes Southern Co., a Chicago-based utility, and Michigan-based FirstEnergy, a company that is in the process of acquiring the Detroit Public Power district.
Wilson declined to say how much FirstEnergy has paid UnitedPower for the power it provides, saying only that FirstEnergy is a partner.
“It’s a very competitive deal,” Wilson said of the deal with FirstEnergy.
“The power we provide is very competitive.”
UnitedPower’s new system will be more efficient and cheaper to operate, said Andrew Hays, an energy consultant and senior fellow at the Center for Energy Policy and Governance at Stanford University.
The utility plans to make its system more efficient by using less energy, and Hays said UnitedPower’s plans for the new system could help make its systems more competitive.
“They will be much more competitive in the long run,” Hays told the AP.
“It’s one of those things where if you look at the costs of the infrastructure and the costs to maintain it, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for a lot of power companies.”
United Power is expected start building the new plant power in Detroit on the heels of a recent announcement by the city of Detroit that it was considering building its own power grid.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who is also a partner at United Power, said in a statement that Detroit’s new power grid would be built with the same technology that’s been in place for the past two decades.
The city is currently building a network of underground power lines.