Our utility began in 1868 as the Bay City Gas Light Company. All the street oil lamps were replaced with gas lamps at this time. In 1882, all these gas lights were replaced with electricity. A novel part of this system was a 24,000 candle powered light mounted on top of a 220 foot tower. It was located on Center Street near the courthouse. This light was visible for a distance of 40 miles and served as a beacon for ships on the lake. Bay City was the first city in Michigan to adopt electricity for general street lighting purposes and the second city in the nation to have electric street cars. In 1923, all street cars were replaced with buses.
North American Chemical Company
In 1886, Bay City built its own electric plant and by 1905, started to sell power to private customers. This continued until 1919 when the city fathers found it less expensive to buy power wholesale from the North American Chemical Company. This policy endured until 1927 when Consumers Power Company purchased the North American Chemical Company.
Single Functioning System
During much of its history, BCELP facilities within the city competed side by side with those of Consumers Energy. However, in 1992, Consumers Energy agreed to sell its remaining distribution system inside the city limits to Bay City, keeping only the high voltage (46,000 kilovolts) sub-transmission facilities and the substation serving the GM Powertrain plant. At that time, BCELP received substations at Water Street, Sage, and Morton Street (Prestolite) as well as duplicate distribution facilities throughout the city. Since obtaining these substations, the utility has worked to integrate these facilities into the City's distribution system to become a single functioning system.
With the 1982 installation of a 5,755 kW dual-fuel generating unit at 1000 S Water Street, Bay City began generating its own power again for the first time since 1919. During 1986, an additional 6,955 kW dual-fuel generating unit was installed at the Water Street Peaking Plant.
Construction was completed in 1993 at 619 S Henry Street for the installation of two 7,790 kW dual-fuel generating units, bringing Bay City Electric Light and Power's total generating capacity to 28,290 kW.
Michigan Public Power Agency
In 1978, the utility joined with other municipal utilities in Michigan to form the Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA). The purpose was to pool their resources to jointly own pieces of a large central station coal-fired generation with the investor owned utilities. Through MPPA, Bay City owns 5.2 megawatts of the 820 megawatts Campbell 3 plant operated by Consumers Energy and 8.7 megawatts of the 1,260 megawatts Belle River Plant operated by Detroit Edison. These plants were completed in 1980 and 1985, respectively, and have helped the utility keep its rates low.