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      Ripley Heating Plant brings major cost cuts to NMU

      NMU is expecting to save over $300,000 in energy costs a year, all thanks to the new Ripley Heating Plant.

      The renewable energy facility will produce almost 90 percent of the energy currently being supplied by burning fossil fuels and over 15 percent of of NMU's electricity purchased from the Marquette Board of Light and Power.

      "The whole idea of a biomass plant to consume renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint was very, very attractive to us. It was part of our roadmap, our strategic plan. We communicate that to students to be nice to the earth," said NMU President Les Wong.

      It'll cost over $16 million and will burn wood chips and wood byproducts from all over the U.P.

      President Wong also said that the construction part of the project has created almost 200 jobs. And once the plant is up and running, that number is expected to skyrocket even more.

      NMU students are hoping to dig in on those job opportunities.

      "They're going to need more people to run the power plant. They said it's going to add new jobs in the U.P. and local jobs and how they're hiring students out of the program and out of the university. It's definitely a plus," said NMU student Austin Coon.

      NMU has teamed up with Johnson Controls to help develop the new facility.

      Construction at the site began in March, and NMU officials are expecting to do the first test burn in January.