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Midwest Energy Resources Company

Superior, Wisconsin

When residents of Detroit log on to the internet or plug in their coffee makers, they have Midwest Energy Resources Company (MERC) to thank for the electric power flowing into their homes.

Commissioned in 1976 to provide Detroit Edison with the lowest possible transportation cost for low-sulfur western U.S. coal, MERC’s Superior Midwest Energy Terminal provides a full range of transportation options to supply the needs of Detroit Edison as well as third party utility and industrial customers situated in the Great Lakes basin.

MERC uses the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal (SMET) in Superior, Wisconsin to facilitate that delivery mechanism.  SMET is a state-of-the-art transshipment facility that incorporates the economic advantages of both unit train and 1,000 foot “superlaker” Great Lakes vessel shipment.

“Over the course of recent years, we have routinely shipped 16-22 million net tons of western coal to 14 customers in the Great Lakes basin, and to two customers in the Canadian Maritimes,” explained Fred Shusterich, president of MERC.  “The coal is railed to Superior where up to three dissimilar quality coals can be blended simultaneously during the vessel loading process. The vessels, generally up to 1,000 feet in length, are loaded at rates of up to 11,500 TPH (tons per hour).”

Detroit Edison and MERC contract their vessels from four companies: American Steamship Company, Interlake Steamship Company, Canada Steamship Lines, and Algoma Central Corporation. “Having access to low-cost Great Lakes vessel bulk transportation is important to the success of our business,” added Shusterich.  “Shipping is very cost effective as shown by the economy of scale of moving the equivalent of 5-123 car unit trains of coal on just one vessel. We also acknowledge the importance of the safety and environmental stewardship factors that moving product via water provides.”

“Shipping is extremely clean and environmentally safe. Over the past 35 years we’ve invested over $18 million in environmental controls at our terminal,” said Shusterich. “As a company with responsibilities to our employees and to our customers, we take protection of the Great Lakes assets very seriously.”