Midwest Energy Resources Company (MERC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the DTE Electric Company, owns and operates the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal (SMET), a full-service energy terminal, providing for coal deliveries from the mine to the end user. We are the largest mover of coal in the Great Lakes basin. Our state-of-the-art transshipment facility incorporates both unit train receipt and superlaker Great Lakes vessel shipment.
Since 1976, the terminal has serviced the low-sulfur western coal needs of DTE Electric’s power plants in southeastern Michigan. We have sufficient capacity to accommodate the coal transshipment needs of additional electric utilities and industrial firms throughout the Great Lakes region.
At present, the coal we receive originates in the Powder River Basin. It is low-sulfur coal possessing a heating value from 8,700 to 10,200 BTUs per pound. We also have the ability to source high-BTU low-sulfur coals from Colorado, Utah and British Columbia.
For coal reclaim and blending, we use a series of nine variable-speed rotary plowfeeders situated under the coal storage piles. The plowfeeders can traverse the entire length of the storage area. We control plowfeeder coal blending and selective coal reclaim through a sophisticated automated system making possible any blend proportioning for up to three dissimilar qualities of coal during the vessel loading process.
On average, 15 DTE Electric and MERC-owned aluminum train sets of 123 cars each transport the coal from the mines to SMET. The unit trains travel the 1,000 mile route in approximately two days carrying 14,500 tons of coal. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific railroads provide the rail service to the terminal.
The unit trains enter the 200-acre terminal site via a 3.5-mile perimeter track. A remote-controlled car indexer and rotary dumper control the movement and unloading of each unit train. The car indexer pulls the entire train forward to position each railcar onto the rotary dumper. Special swivel couplings on each railcar allow the individual railcars to be turned upside down and unloaded without uncoupling. After unloading, we then transfer coal directly to the vessel or storage pile for additional blending and reclaim.