Employee Pays Homage to Retired Coal Plant on Wedding Day

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Colin Dunham oversees operations in the company’s seven natural gas compressor stations. The stations inject or withdraw natural gas from the company’s storage fields to ensure customers receive safe, reliable natural gas. Prior to his current role, Dunham helped run the J.R. Whiting Plant in Luna Pier. The historic coal-fired facility was retired in April 2016, along with the Cobb (Muskegon) and Weadock (Hampton Township) plants. Collectively, they were known as the “Classic Seven.” As part of the plant’s memento program, Dunham acquired a section of Monel tubing from one of Unit 3’s feedwater heaters and used the material as part of his wedding band.

Why is the Whiting Plant so special to you?

I spent six great years at Whiting, and as the plant’s closure got closer, those that remained grew together as a family. We put our hearts and souls into retiring the plant proudly.

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The J.R. Whiting Plant opened in 1952 on the Lake Erie shoreline of southeastern Michigan, south of Monroe.

How did you incorporate a piece of the plant into your wedding ring?

On June 1, 2017 – the 65th anniversary of Whiting Unit 1’s in-service date – a jeweler used the material from the plant to cast my wedding band. The band contains one piece of Monel for my grandfather, one piece each for full-time employees at the Whiting plant’s closure and one each for my wife, Jillian, and daughter, Alyssa. My ring is something I can see and feel each day. It’s a lasting symbol that’s meant to honor the past and celebrate a bright future.

What is the connection between Monel and your grandfather?

My grandfather, Arden Gurr, has been one of the most impactful persons in my life. He was a pilot, tool and dye craftsman and sportsman. On a fishing trip, he introduced me to Monel, a material made from nickel and copper well-suited for power plants given its resistance to corrosion and heat transfer characteristics. We eventually traveled to mines in Canada and Australia where Monel naturally occurs.

You chose July 27 as your wedding date. Why so?

July 27, 2017 was the 78th anniversary of the Bryce E. Morrow generating site’s start of operations at Unit 1 near Kalamazoo. I consider Bryce Eugene Morrow and Justin Rice Whiting as two of the greatest contributors to Consumers Energy’s lasting legacy.

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