Niles Energy Center plant operating at full capacity

NILES — After 34 months of construction, the Indeck Niles Energy Center is now producing badly needed electricity for the grid.

The $1.1 billion plant has been producing at full capacity since July 1, said Kevin Beavers, plant manager. The first half of the year was spent running tests aimed at verifying the reliability and further boosting the efficiency of the plant.

At its peak, as many as 900 construction workers from Kiewit Corp. — the same company that built the St. Joseph Energy Center in New Carlisle — were on the site. But now those numbers are now down to just a few workers who are mostly removing equipment and construction trailers.

More on Niles Energy Center:Two decades after it was first planned, Indeck Niles Energy Center is near the finish line

Though the plant is now producing power at full capacity, the official dedication will probably be held in September when Chicago-based Indeck and its two Korean partners celebrate the completion of the project, said David Hicks, Indeck’s vice president of business development.

Greg Winters mans a station in the control room Tuesday at the Indeck Niles Energy Center.  The gas-fired plant can quickly boost or reduce energy production based on demand.

Niles Energy Center power production

The plant is capable of producing 1,085 megawatts of electricity — enough for 650,000 homes and businesses — on just 10 acres of a 373-acre site just north of Jerry Tyler Memorial Airport on the northeast side of the city.

Though Indeck has now shifted to solar power and battery storage as its primary focus, Hicks marveled at the efficiency and output of the plant. It would take about 5,000 to 10,000 acres to get a comparable amount of power from solar, he explained.

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