Hillman Power Company Set to Close in 2022: Village & Area Sawmills Affected

The Hillman Power Company is set to be decommissioned by May 2022.

The power plant burns wood waste, like saw dust and bark, and converts it to energy.

The Hillman Village Manager tells us the plant has 20 employees that will be out of jobs.

It has been a part of the Hillman community for more than 30 years, but by 2022 it will be no more.

For decades, the Tulgestka family has been in the logging business.

Chris Tulgestka is just the latest to take on the family business, but now this career is in question.

“I just don’t know what’s gonna happen, it’s not gonna be good I know that,” said Chris Tulgestka, Owner of E.H. Tulgestka & Sons.

Tulgestka uses the Hillman Power Company to safely dispose of his wood waste, like bark and saw dust. But with the announcement of its closure, he is not sure what to do.

“It’s too early on to kind of figure out what the heck is gonna happen. you gotta do something with that waste you can’t keep piling it up and piling it up and after a couple years you got a mountain what are you gonna do with it,” Tulgestka said.

“I mean if you can’t get rid of your waste, you can’t cut boards,” Tulgestka said.

Tulgestka says piles of that wood waste create a real fire hazard. Over time, the wood piles dry out, start decaying, and catch fire.

Sawmills in the area aren’t the only thing affected by this closure, it’s really the entire village of Hillman and the businesses located there.

“They have substantial economic impact on the community and we’re gonna have to find a way to mitigate that,” said David Post, Hillman Village Manager.

The power plant is up to 15% of the village tax base.

“If they stop using water completely it could be around $20-30,000 worth of water revenue that could be lost,” Post said.

“There will have to be cuts, that’s all there is to it,” Post said.

The village is still working to figure things out.

“Currently, we are working on a redevelopment ready community certification with MEDC (Michigan Economic Development Corporation) so this is a perfect time to do that, we have a couple years to do that,” Post said.