May 14, 2017

May 14, 2017 – Port project at former Muskegon coal plant aims to tap into region’s ag industry

From MiBiz.com

MUSKEGON — As a result of the challenging economics of maintaining decades-old coal plants, communities nationwide have wrestled with how to replace lost tax revenue and repurpose large industrial brownfield sites when those facilities close.

For the B.C. Cobb coal plant in Muskegon, whose towering smokestack is an unmistakable feature along the east end of Muskegon Lake, Consumers Energy has selected North Carolina-based Forsite Development Inc. to capitalize on the site’s deep-water dock location.

Forsite President Tom McKittrick told MiBiz he envisions two features for the 115-acre property going forward: maintaining and consolidating aggregate delivery on the east end of the lake and developing a shipping market between Muskegon and Milwaukee “that doesn’t exist currently.”

“We think there’s a lot of potential” for a cross-lake shipping route, one that could support more agricultural food processing in the area, McKittrick said. 

“A lot of agricultural products are grown in West Michigan, and a great percentage of those are being shipped out of the state to be processed,” he said. “If Michigan companies move into those markets, a route that allows them to bypass the congestion in the Chicago market could move it more efficiently to Milwaukee markets.”

When the Cobb plant shut down in April 2016, officials voiced concerns about jeopardizing federal funding for harbor dredging if shipments through the port fell below the annual 1 million ton threshold for commercial ports. 

However, local officials involved with the B.C. Cobb project say federal lawmakers have spent the past year making that requirement more discretionary and based on a formula, and aggregate shipments to the port have since increased to replace the loss of coal.

In addition to its unique shipping port, Muskegon also drew McKittrick in with its “massive” wastewater treatment plant east of U.S. 31, which he believes can help support agricultural processing facilities.

“Food processing needs wastewater treatment — that’s a huge piece of the puzzle for site selection for food processing projects,” McKittrick said. “With that wastewater treatment capacity and a potential new transportation route to get agricultural products into Midwest markets, I think the combination of those two things has potential to attract food processing companies to Muskegon and the region.”

McKittrick, who is originally from Indiana and has spent much of his career in commercial real estate, wants to transform the Cobb site into an industrial park that is tied to the wastewater treatment plant. Any kind of vertical development has been largely off the table due to the unstable soil at the site. 

“There are opportunities specifically in the food processing arena that could be created by linking those two assets,” he said. “In my opinion, that hasn’t been done effectively yet.”

SUBJECT TO APPROVAL

In late April, Consumers announced a plan to offer Forsite $1 million to take over the property, decommission and demolish the site and remove environmental contamination.

Because Consumers is divesting electricity-generating assets in Muskegon and at the J.R. Whiting coal plant in Monroe County, the plan is subject to approval by the Michigan Public Service Commission. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 31 and a final decision will come within 180 days of the filing.

Consumers Energy spokesperson Roger Morgenstern is optimistic the plan will receive approval before the end of the summer. It will take roughly two years thereafter to demolish the site. Morgenstern said the roughly 60 employees at the plant have relocated to other Consumers facilities in West Olive and Ludington, or have retired.

According to MPSC filings, Consumers said it would be cheaper to leave the decommissioning and demolition to Forsite rather than perform that work itself.

The utility first announced plans to close the Cobb plant in 2011. Since then, the debate over coal plant economics has largely turned political. Republicans criticize the Obama administration for stringent air pollution regulations that are leading to widespread closures, and thus a downturn in the U.S. coal sector. However, the prevailing thinking among industry analysts and utilities holds that the decline in natural gas prices, in particular, has made coal less attractive.

“We felt that continued investment in these older coal plants is not in the best interest of our customers,” Morgenstern said. 

Along with DTE Energy, Consumers has shifted investments toward natural gas plants and infrastructure, as well as to wind and solar projects. Officials with Michigan’s two largest utilities have said publicly this transition was happening regardless of how the Trump administration aims to change U.S. energy policy.

“We are looking to cleaner, less carbon-emitting plants and not continuing to invest in some of our smaller (coal) plants,” Morgenstern said. “These plants have served us well for the past 60-70 years. It’s like an old car: You have to decide when to stop putting money into it.”

Erin Kuhn, executive director of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, said the B.C. Cobb redevelopment could be transformational for the city of Muskegon, as the port has been identified in numerous reports as a regionally significant economic driver. That it’s taking place at a former coal plant is all the more symbolic.

“We’re helping the community redefine the next phase of Muskegon Lake as an economic engine for that community and region,” Kuhn said.

‘ECO-INDUSTRIAL’ REDEVELOPMENT

Founded in 2004, Forsite specializes in acquiring industrial properties and returning them to use with an emphasis on environmental preservation and creating “ecological assets,” McKittrick said. Adding clean energy features to these sites is part of what the company describes as “eco-industrial” redevelopment. Forsite’s ReVenture Park project in Charlotte, N.C., for example, included extensive habitat restoration projects, a major aquaculture facility and a biomass plant.

Forsite broke into this particular type of redevelopment as “surplus real estate” in the Carolinas became available when textile furniture manufacturing moved overseas, McKittrick said. Now, the energy transition happening nationwide — a shift that relies less on coal and more on natural gas and renewable energy — is creating similar opportunities, he said.

“With all of these coal-fired plants shutting down at one time, we think there’s tremendous opportunity to go repurpose those sites and do the exact same thing,” he said. “With coal plants in general, if people look at them through a different sense, they can be turned back into assets and maybe help foster more renewable energy development because of interconnection (assets).”

McKittrick said Forsite has acquired three coal plants in North Carolina and sold two of them to a biomass developer.

Specific features for the Cobb property remain unknown at this point. Renderings provided by the company show the potential for solar energy generation, which McKittrick said would have to be owned by Consumers Energy. Wetland restoration could be another component.

While the company is not taking the coal ash storage impoundments at the site, Forsite will oversee the abatement of asbestos and other contaminants.

“There’s a multitude of environmentally sensitive projects that we can weave into one of these projects that aren’t necessarily adding a lot of cost, but are putting areas of sites to good use that are otherwise unusable,” he said. 

Adam Rickel

Vice President of Origination

Adam is currently the Vice President of Origination for Forsite Renewables. Adam joined Forsite in February 2024 after serving as Vice President, Strategic Accounts for FTC Solar, a global solar tracker and software provider. While at FTC he focused on engaging developers and asset owners across North America to form supply partnerships via volume supply agreements. Prior to FTC, Adam spent 15 years at NextEra Energy Resources, largely concentrating on renewable energy development and contract origination.

While at NextEra, Adam carried out early and late-stage wind development tasks, leading or directly participating in over 700 MW of wind energy development and construction in Texas and Ontario as well as advancing wind project development at sites across the Midwest US and Atlantic Canada. In his Origination function, Adam originated over 3,600 MW of renewables and/or battery storage Power Purchase and Build Transfer Agreements representing approximately $4.5B of capital deployed. He was also responsible for building out a greenfield transmission development team focused on high-voltage, cross-state transmission projects to unlock broad access to renewable energy nationwide.

 Adam graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in Economics and minors in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship.

Gary Greene

Project Manager

Gary, joined the Forsite team in 2021 as Project Manager after 35 years of industrial construction and manufacturing experience. During his manufacturing career, Gary had a multitude of roles–starting in production and quality control, moving onto plant site utilities and finishing in maintenance.
 
As the plant maintenance manager, Gary coordinated maintenance and electrical teams to ensure that all plant operations and goals were achieved. Gary is responsible for Site and Project Management at one of Forsite’s largest industrial properties.

Bill Abraczinskas

Director of Environmental

Prior to joining Forsite, Bill spent 30 years in global environmental engineering firms prior to creating his own business to provide environmental consulting and engineering services to the industrial and commercial markets.
 
His background is in large-scale civil remediation projects involving design/build, earthwork, in-situ remediation, pump and treatment systems, demolition, thermal incineration, facility rehabilitation, and wetlands restoration. Bill’s strengths include guiding clients through compliance with regulatory agencies. Bill is currently shepparding one of Forsite’s largest Risk Transfer projects through demolition and remediation in order to be repurposed to Forsite’s needs.

Gerald Stroner

Facilities Manager

Gerry joined the Forsite team in 2017 as Facilities Manager at ReVenture Park in Charlotte, NC. Gerry supervises repair and upkeep of all buildings, equipment and vehicles, grounds maintenance and heavy equipment operations.
 
He also provides facilities management at our Edge Water Treating waste water treatment facility in Salisbury, NC.

Gerry is currently pursuing waste water operator credentials, and is developing drone photography services for Forsite.

A native of Big Bear Lake, California, Gerry is an army veteran with 11 years construction experience in earthquake country. He now lives in Huntersville NC.

Greg Coleman

Principal

Greg represents the perfect blend of mechanical practical ability and theoretical engineering acumen. A native of Northern Australia, Greg was compelled to hone his mechanical skills keeping farm equipment operational in harsh conditions.
 
Additionally, this mechanical ingenuity led Greg to study Engineering and pursue a career in the consulting business with companies such as URS and Geosyntec. Greg is the Technical Director for all of Forsite’s endeavors including power, wastewater, construction, decommissioning, demolition and environmental liability projects.

Bobby Glidewell

Staff Landman

Bobby Glidewell is a senior member of our land team responsible for the land acquisition of our projects. Bobby has over 30 years of experience in land management.
 
Prior to Forsite, Bobby worked for a Fortune 200 energy company as a Lead Land Services Representative. Bobby has also held senior land roles with numerous energy companies where he was able to manage the land efforts of natural gas projects. Bobby holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from John Brown University. Bobby resides in Northwest Arkansas.

Drew Connors

Development Manager

Drew Connors is a member of our development team responsible for the research of new sites along with assisting with solar and battery storage development and engineering. Drew comes from a commercial construction background, where he was managing new build and renovation projects for clients in the financial services industry.
 
Drew studied at The University of Alabama in the pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He then stayed at Alabama to pursue further studies in business and energy systems and received a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering as well.

Marijon Owens

Project Developer

MariJon (“MJ”) recently moved over to Forsite Renewables from Forsite’s risk transfer division. MJ is supporting the development of later-stage projects as they progress toward the start of construction. She brings a keen attention to detail and project management expertise to these projects, overseeing some critical path processes to ensure the projects are completed on time and under budget.
 
Prior roles at Forsite include Risk Transfer Project Manager responsible for supervising the demolition and remediation of a chemical facility site and operations manager of Forsite’s Clean Energy renewable natural gas facility at ReVenture Park. Additionally, MJ has served as project manager, logistics coordinator, risk manager, safety officer and quality proponent at various Forsite locations. MJ was raised on a farm in eastern North Carolina and studied in NC, TX and the UK, graduating with a BA in 1991.

Ann Haney

Director of Real Estate

Ann oversees the title and survey process and manages all land contracts. Prior to joining Forsite, she worked as a Real Estate Manager for solar development projects and a title analyst for wind development.
 
Prior to her energy career, she has 20 years of experience as a practicing attorney. Ann has a JD from Boston College.

Mark Albert

Senior Director of Development

Mark Albert is a senior member of our development team responsible for battery storage, engineering, and business development. Mark has more than 25 years of renewable energy sales and development experience.
 
Prior to Forsite, Mark was Vice President of Business Development for an international battery company where he was responsible for all sales and marketing, technical assessments, system modelling, and preliminary project designs for the company’s utility scale battery storage business. Prior to that, Mark served as Vice President of Development for a geothermal energy development firm where he was instrumental in the company’s growth over his 17 years there, negotiating and executing PPAs totalling $2 billion in revenues. Mark earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Washington University.

Scott Donaubauer

Director of Solar + Storage Development

Scott has over 15 years of experience in the power and industrial sectors and is responsible for solar and battery storage as well as business development.
 
Prior to Forsite, Scott was a mechanical design & field engineer, and project manager. Most recently he founded an energy services company specializing in field services and startup & commissioning. Scott has a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa.

Kenny Gunter

Director of Land Acquisition

With his prior experience as a Solar Project Developer, Kenny is mainly involved in early site assessment, and develops land acquisition strategies. He oversees all land acquisitions, and manages our landmen.
 
Prior to joining Forsite, he not only worked as a Solar Project Developer, but also managed landmen in both solar, and oil & gas spaces, and worked as a landman in the oil and gas development field.
Kenny has a BS in Finance from Penn State University, is a Registered Professional Landman, has a GIS Certificate from North Texas and is a Texas Notary.
 
 
 

Maegan Bean

Senior Director of Project Finance

Maegan Bean is a senior member of our finance team. Prior to Forsite, Maegan worked for a Fortune 200 energy company as a Director of Finance leading the team responsible for the financing of new ventures and as a Manager of Project Valuation leading a team responsible for the pricing and valuation of utility-scale wind, solar, and battery energy storage projects.
 
Maegan has also held roles with a focus on financial and statistical analysis in the aerospace/defense and actuarial consulting industries. Maegan holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Financial Economics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a Master of Engineering in Project Management from the University of Maryland, College Park.
 
 
 

Keith Kurtz

Vice President of Development

Keith Kurtz is a senior member of our development team responsible for solar and battery storage development. Keith has over 15 years of renewable energy development experience.
 
Prior to Forsite, Keith held senior-level development positions with numerous renewable energy development and manufacturing companies, where he was able to lead the development of multiple gigawatts worth of utility-scale renewable energy projects. Keith holds a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Science in Applied Science from the University of Nebraska.

Kevin Day

President - Solar Development

Kevin has twenty years of experience developing and financing power generation facilities, including natural gas, wind and solar projects. Prior to Forsite, Kevin worked for First Solar as Director of Project and Business Development for the Eastern U.S.

Prior to First Solar, Kevin developed and financed wind projects at BP Wind Energy. Prior to BP Wind Energy, Kevin also developed wind projects for SilverPoint Energy, a company he founded, and was a Director of Project Finance for Panda Energy, a developer of combined cycle natural gas projects.

Kevin holds his BBA in finance, MBA and JD from the University of Oklahoma.

Michelle Skinner

Executive Administrative Assistant

Michelle Skinner is the Executive Administrative Assistant for the Forsite team. She serves as administrative support for the CEO, along with support for the COO and Director of Business Operations. Michelle is also responsible for Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable.

Prior to joining Forsite, Michelle spent 24 years with the Kraft Heinz Company in Massillon, Ohio, where she was responsible for payroll and administrative support to the Production Manager.  She also worked in the Administration and Human Resources departments.

Andrew Archer

Controller

Andrew Archer is the Financial Controller for Forsite. In this role, Andrew has oversight of the Accounting department, with responsibilities for the entire end-to-end accounting cycle of Forsite. This includes month-end close, financial reporting, budgeting/forecasting, cash flow projection, and developing internal control policies and procedures.

Prior to joining Forsite, Andrew spent 16 years in Real Estate Accounting with two Charlotte-based CRE firms, both as Director of Accounting. Andrew earned his B.A. in Economics and History before earning his MBA from FIU and an MBA+ Certificate with emphasis in Advanced Financial Reporting/Accounting from UNC Charlotte.

Andrew and his wife are originally from Jamaica. They moved to the US in 2003 and live in Gastonia, NC with their two sons and daughter.

Jenny Wesley

Paralegal

Jenny Wesley is a paralegal for Forsite’s legal department. She supports General Counsel and the Land Team with real estate transactions, titles, surveys, and more.

Prior to joining Forsite, Jenny worked for a law firm in Canton, Ohio for over 23 years where she provided real estate paralegal support. Jenny earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science for Legal Assisting from Stark State College. Jenny resides in North Carolina with her husband, daughter, and son. She enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, and hiking through the woods.

Joshua Smith

General Counsel

As General Counsel, Josh manages Forsite’s legal department. Prior to joining Forsite, Josh was the chief legal officer for a utility-scale solar developer.

Before that, he worked as a corporate attorney for Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, a leading U.S. law firm, and served as an attorney in the Enforcement Division of the Federal Election Commission. Josh holds an LL.M from American University Washington College of Law, a J.D. from Nova Southeastern University and a B.S. from Florida State University.

Shannon Doster

Director of Business Operations

Forsite Development day-to-day operations are managed by Shannon Doster. Her responsibilities include financial reporting, executive support, human resources, marketing, and property management administration.

 

Offering over 20 years of experience in business management, accounting, sales and marketing along with her previous job for an international corporation, has gained Shannon experience in many business sectors. This coupled with her versatility has contributed much to Forsite ’s ongoing success.

Shannon studied Business Management at York Technical College. She has special training in Six Sigma quality and has earned a Green Belt Certification. Shannon is also a licensed Real Estate Broker and is a Notary Public for North and South Carolina.

Ryan Ford

Chief Operating Officer

Ryan is responsible for the operations, strategy and project management of Forsite’s risk transfer, renewables and clean energy business lines. Prior to joining Forsite in 2018, Ryan’s background was in Engineering and Project Management; specifically, large-scale engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction (EPFC) projects.

Ryan has spent significant time on major construction sites, supervising installation of the design of new construction including coal, combined cycle and nuclear power plants.

Additionally, Ryan has worked in various engineering management roles within the power industry focusing on all fuel types for major base load plants, including the newer Allam Cycle technology.

Tom McKittrick

Chief Executive Officer / Founder

Tom is the Chief Executive Officer / Founder of Forsite Development, Inc. and manages all aspects of the company’s operations. Tom started Forsite in December 2004 with the idea that there was a significant supply of vacant corporate surplus industrial facilities throughout the Southeast that could be acquired aggressively and then repositioned. Since starting Forsite, Tom has purchased over 7 million SF of space throughout the Carolinas.

Forsite’s most ambitious project to date is “ReVenture Park”, a 667 acre re-development of a shuttered chemical plant, currently listed as a Federal Superfund site into a “Renewable Energy Industrial Park”. The property, located along the shores of the Catawba River in Charlotte, NC has over 1.4 miles of river frontage and is the largest piece of underutilized heavy industrial property in the region. Once complete, this project is projected to create over 1,100 “green collar” jobs and over $900 million in new investment.

Prior to starting Forsite, Tom was a ten year veteran and Senior Vice President of Development for Indianapolis based Lauth Property Group. In July of 2001, Tom moved to Charlotte to open Lauth’s second regional office where he managed all build-to-suit, land development and construction activities that he and his team created in the Southeast.

Tom has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing and Finance from Ball State University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Holy Angels (www.holyangelsnc.org).