Midland County Historical Society

Heritage Series

Aug. 23, 2018 7:30 PM

Heritage Series: Everything Seemed Great – Backyard Nuclear Reactors in Midland with Lee Smith

Midland’s first nuclear reactor started up on July 6, 1967 at the Dow Chemical Company where 12,000 people worked, close to schools and churches. Dow had conformed to all the Atomic Energy Commission requirements, then simply built the reactor and started it up. But when Consumers Power announced on December 14, 1967 their plans to build two large nuclear reactors in Midland (called the Midland Plant) things became a lot more complicated.
Complications included:
– Local organizations formed to oppose the construction
– Federal regulators opined over and over again on construction standards
– The courts rendered judgements on the applicability of laws and regulations
– A movie, The China Syndrome, and a nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, five hundred miles away from Midland, changed public opinion and building requirements
– Politicians and the Michigan Public Service Commission debated what construction costs could be passed on to Consumers Power’s customers

By July 17, 1984 when Consumers Power cancelled construction of the Midland Plant they had spent over $4 billion (over $12 billion in 2017 dollars) and more than seventeen years on the project. The details of this story are fascinating and the outcome still matters.

Lee Smith worked for sixteen years for the Midland Cogeneration Venture Limited Partnership (MCV), the entity that took over the site of the Midland Nuclear Plant. When he retired from his job as Vice President of Energy Supply and Marketing at MCV in 2004, he established a consulting firm to assist clients in obtaining gas and electric supply. The material in this talk comes from research for a book he is writing on the Midland Plant. He lives in Midland with his wife, H.J. Smith.

$5.00 Non-Members
members must register with the Ticket Office for their free tickets.

This presentation will be located in the Dow Solutions Room at the Doan History Center.