History of Alpena Power Company

George N. Fletcher, Founder

george2Alpena Power Company has been serving the Alpena area since 1881 when it was founded by George N. Fletcher. Since that time it has continued to bring reliable service to its customers. On this page, you will be able to see how Alpena Power has continued to grow from its inception.

On October 10, 1881, the Alpena Electric Light Company held its first Directors Meeting. The company was formed for the “manufacture and production of electricity and electrical lights to supply the City of Alpena and the inhabitants thereof”. First entries in the construction accounts are dated, November 30, 1881.


In 1886 there were 67 street lights in service.

In 1890, the Company purchased a 1,300-volt Thompson-Huston Incandescent Lighting Plant. In 1891, a boiler was purchased and moved to the Richardson Mill Dam (located just below Tenth Avenue) in order to operate it as a steam plant for the production of electricity.

In 1898, a new power house was erected on the north side of the Thunder Bay River at the Richardson Dam. Also during this time period, the construction of Four Mile Dam was started.

In 1902, the Alpena Electric Company acquired the Alpena City Water Company including the Hubbard Lake Dam. Construction of Four Mile Dam was completed.

Frank W. Fletcher, Chairman

frank2In 1905 the Alpena City Water Company water system and shore pump were sold to the City of Alpena and Alpena Power Company Limited was formed, a subsidiary of the Alpena Electric Light Company.

On November 28, 1906, the Alpena City Water Company works were shut down permanently.

In 1909, construction started on the Ninth Street Dam located downstream of the Richardson Dam. In March of 1910, the powerhouse with log chute, spillway and three gates were completed. By fall, the new powerhouse was in operation. In March of 1911, there were seven gates with spillways.

In the fall of 1912, the first generator was installed at Four Mile Dam.


Philip K. Fletcher, Chairman

phillip21923-1924: Norway Point Dam was built to supply power for the growing energy needs and to control the annual flooding of the river in spring.

In 1924, Alpena Power Company Limited was dissolved and the company became known as Alpena Power Company.

In 1930, the Ninth Street Substation was built.

In 1934, APC’s main offices were moved to the Campbell Building on North Second Avenue.

In 1935 the construction of the Upper South Dam was started.

In 1938, the Thunder Bay Steam Plant, located on Ford Avenue, was constructed by Thunder Bay Quarries and connected to APC’s electrical system. This plant was purchased by APC in December 1947 when Thunder Bay Quarries closed.

In 1948, a 2,500 KW steam turbine at Fletcher Paper Company was connected to the APC’s electrical system via the new Fletcher Paper Substation.

In 1951 the Besser Substation was constructed.

Harry Fletcher, Chairman


In 1953, the Thunder Bay Manufacturing Substation was constructed.

In 1954, the Southwest Substation was constructed.

In 1955, APC’s service area expanded to include the Hillman area with the purchase of Hillman Water & Light Company.

Also in 1955, the Northeast Substation also was constructed.

In 1956, a 138,000 volt interconnection with Consumers Power Company was established at Four Mile Substation, increasing APC’s energy capacity to 26 megawatts and connecting it to the national electric grid for the first time.

Ralph G. Fletcher, Chairman


In 1957, the South Substation was constructed.

In 1958, the Long Lake Avenue Substation was constructed and APC’s main office was moved to what is today the McCoy Pontiac Building on South Third Avenue.

In 1960, the Huron Portland (now Lafarge) Substation was constructed. As part of that project APC’s total energy capacity was increased to 86 megawatts.

In 1961 the Hospital Substation was constructed.

In 1963 the Ossineke Substation was constructed.

In 1964, APC’s main office was moved to the former Peoples State Bank building on the corner of Water Street and North Second Avenue.

In 1966 the Ontario Substation was constructed.

In 1968 the Gennrich Substation was constructed. This increased APC’s energy capacity to 137 megawatts.

Stephen H. Fletcher, Chairman


In 1975 the Hubbard Lake Substation was constructed.

In 1976 the Abitibi (now DPI) Substation was constructed to serve the increased load at the plant.

In 1978 the Norway Substation was constructed.

In 1979 the Bagley Street Substation was constructed.

In 1980 the Rockport Substation was constructed.

Also in 1980, the first Energy Thrift Note (similar to a certificate of deposit) was issued. APC was one of two utilities in the U.S. to offer such notes to their customers.

In 1980 APC had about 13,500 customers.

In 1985 APC donates 6,600 acres in the Fletcher Pond area to the Thunder Bay Audubon Society. The pond has the largest Osprey population east of the Mississippi River.

In 1986 the Potter Field Substation was constructed. This increased APC’s energy capacity to 158 megawatts.

In 1989, a mural depicting APC’s history was painted on APC’s main office building by a local artist.

On August 31, 1990, all hydro electric generation power plants and associated lands and facilities were sold to Thunder Bay Power Company. These included Ninth Street Dam, Four Mile Dam, Norway Point Dam, Hillman Dam, Hubbard Lake Reservoir Dam and Upper South Reservoir Dam.

In 1990 APC had about 13,900 customers.

In 1993 the Progress Street Substation was constructed to improve power quality and reliability for APC’s customers in Hillman. This increased APC’s energy capacity to 170 megawatts.

Also in 1993, the North Side rebuild project, which converted the existing 4,160 volt system to 13,200 volts, was completed. The project was started in 1986 and cost more than $1,000,000. The Long Lake Substation was decommissioned as part of the project.

In 1994 APC entered into a 30 year agreement to purchase power from Consumers Power Company (now Consumers Energy).

In 1996 the Central Substation was constructed to eventually replace the lower voltage Ninth Street Substation.

Between 1996 and 2004 capacity is increased at eight substations to enable APC to serve its customers’ growing demand for electricity.

In 1999 the North Industrial Substation was constructed.

In 2000 the M-32 Substation was constructed.

In 2000 APC had about 15,400 customers.

In 2001, the South Side rebuild project, which converted the existing 4,160 volt system to 13,200 volts, was completed. The project was started in 1995 and cost more than $1,700,000.

In 2002, Voltage conversion of the center and southside of the city of Alpena was completed, Central substation in full service at 13,800 volts. Ninth Street 4,106 volt distribution substation decommissioned.

In 2003, Phase one of the SCADA system (remote monitoring & control of substations) was completed, with all substations connected to the Operation center. Phase two started, where additional equipment will be installed to monitor all individual distribution circuits.

In 2004, Hospital substation upgraded with new reclosers, switchgear, and an improved connection to an alternate source of energy from an adjoining distribution circuit with automatic transfer equiptment. A new recloser and three voltage regulators were added to Rockport substation.

2003 – 2005, APC’s energy capacity was increased to 202 megawatts with installation of new 40 megawatt transformers at Gennrich and Potter Field substations, and the replacement of transformers at 4-Mile substation. A new 138 k V SF6 gas circuit switcher and control relays were added to Gennrich substation for protection of transformer #2.

In 2006, Two more distribution circuits were added to the North Industrial Park substation to better serve the loads there. The first of five 34.5 kV circuit breakers (1956 vintage) was replaced at 4-Mile sub. The rest will be replaced in the next few years. A new 138 kV SF6 gas circuit switcher and control relays were added to Genrich substation for protection of transformer #1. Ninth Avenue garage was renovated to provide additional office space. All employees now are located at that facility.

In 2007 APC had about 16,300 customers. A new 138 kV SF6 gas circuit switcher and control relays were added to Potter Field substation for protection of the transformer. A fifth distribution circuit was installed at South substation and a portion of the distribution line for this circuit was rebuilt with larger conductor, to better serve the commercial loads on the south side of Alpena.

2008-2009, Replaced four manually-operated 138 kV air break switches at Gennrich substation with four new motorized switches. All 138 kV bus insulators were replaced at the same time.

In 2009, Replaced two more 34.5 kV circuit breakers at 4-Mile substation. Rebuilt the ATI substation and installed a new 34.5 kV recloser.

2009-2010, Started what will be a multi-year project to replace the aging 34.5 kV sub-transmission lines. The first line to be replaced was the tie between 4-Mile and Norway point substations, which was relocated to Long Rapids Road. This will make it easier to maintain than the old line which crossed the river twice. The replacement of the Industrial tie between Gennrich and Potter Field substations was started in 2010.

2010, Completed replacement of all control systems at Potter Field substation with microprocessor-based relays. Started replacement of the control systems at Gennrich substation with the same type of equipment. More system upgrades in 2010 consisted of the exits and surrounding tie switches at Gennrich Substation.  The exits were upgraded to larger wire and switches were added for load management and switching capabilities.

2010 also marked the beginning of the installation of fiber optic cable.  This is a multi-year project to eventually connect all substations with fiber optic cable giving Alpena Power the ability to have real time data and control of substations.  The first connections, completed in 2010, were between the 9th St. office and Gennrich Substation and with the newly installed fiber optic cable APC now has full SCADA remote control of Gennrich Substation.

Other major system upgrades in the early 20-teens were the replacements of several oil filled breakers with vacuum filled breakers.  These new breakers also have magnetically actuated control.  Four Mile Substation saw the replacement of 3 oil filled breakers in 2010 while Potter Field substation saw the replacement of 3 oil filled breakers in 2011.

In the fall of 2011, American Process Inc. came on line with a small 5MVA transformer.  Alpena Power constructed a 34.5kV service for this new manufacturing facility.  Also in 2011 was the replacement of the Bagley St. Substation 5MVA transformer with a 10MVA transformer.  This upgrade was needed for load management and steady load growth for the future.

In 2011, Alpena Power started the design and material procurement for a new substation for the LaFarge Alpena plant.  The design process was completed in mid 2011 with materials ordered for construction to begin in the Spring of 2012.  Site clearing began in the fall of 2011 and construction began in February of 2012.  The new 40MVA transformer arrived in late March of 2012.  Construction was completed in late summer and the new substation was put on line in late December of 2012.  The old substation (circa 1960) was removed and the old transformer recycled.

2013 saw the continuation of the 34.5kV line upgrades including fiber optic cable installation.  By the end of 2013 the 34.5kV lines from Central Substation passed Ontario Substation (behind Alpena Jr. High school) were complete.  This included more SCADA control at Ontario and ATI Castings Substations.

Northeast Substation was completely rebuilt in 2013.  Northeast Substation was originally constructed in 1955 and had nearly all original equipment and hardware.  Nearly every component was upgraded.  This included the replacement of oil filled circuit reclosers with modern microprocessor controlled breakers and new SCADA equipment.

The replacement of oil filled breakers with vacuum breakers continued in 2013.  Two breakers at Gennrich Substation were replaced and included a new modern relay and control panel.  This moved the control of the breaker away from the yard into a concrete switch building.