The Downriver area is home to five large plants generating electricity, all owned and operated by DTE which was, formerly, Detroit Edison. There is the one shown here, there is the one to the south named the Trenton Channel Power Plant in Trenton and then there is the Enrico Fermi nuclear plant in Monroe. There is also the Monroe Power Plant in Monroe, a coal-fired plant that is the largest of the five in terms of generating capacity. The plant you see here on the shores of the Rouge and Detroit Rivers was built in 1957, although I think there may have been previous generating plants on this site. Somehow those interested in the architectural wealth of Michigan seldom focus upon plants that generate energy.
This is a coal-fired plant. Coal arrives either by rail or by ship. The plant is sandwiched between the United States Steel’s basic steel plant on nearby Zug Island and their River Rogue and Ecorse plants when the steel made on Zug Island is shaped.
Environmentalists suggest that the surrounding areas of the cities of Detroit and River Rogue are the most polluted locations in the state. They are home to or near two basic steel plants, the Ford Rouge complex, the Detroit Water and Sewerage facilities, two major coal fired power plants and a variety of other industries.
There are questions about how long the plant you see pictured here will continue to operate. Very importantly natural gas—at least in 2016—was a less costly and more environmentally friendly source of power than coal. Many environmentalists strongly oppose the continued operation of coal-fired plants such as this one. Detroit Edison needs to regularly obtain permits from governmental agencies to operate and modify this plant and their other coal fired plants. At such time, representatives of a rather strong environmental movement oppose any decision that would prolong the life of these plants. It is possible that the election of 2016 could produce a fundamental change in federal and state policies regarding environmental issues.
Date of construction: 1957
Architects: Unknown to me
Use in 2016: Generation of electrical energy
State of Michigan Registry of Historic Sites: Not listed
National Register of Historic Places: Not listed
Photographs: Ren Farley; Fall 2015
Description prepared; January, 2016
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