MARSHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — After Ford Motor Co.’s blockbuster announcement to build a multi-billion-dollar battery plant in Marshall, questions surround what’s next before construction starts.
Before ground is broken, city manager Derek Perry said sections of the site have to be annexed from Marshall Township to the city of Marshall.
“Although the announcement was the big win, there really are a lot of things to do going forward,” Perry added.
A key step involves conditional land transfers of the site from the township to the city, which is allowed under Act 425 of 1984. Perry says at least three sections of the site, totaling around 1,400 acres, have to be transferred. As of Tuesday, one 700-acre section is already transferred, but the others still have to be approved by both parties.
“(This) allows us then to complete this process and provide city services, typically, and provide some type of revenue sharing with the local unit,” Perry explained.
Rezoning will then be the name of the game, which requires a joint planning commission with representatives from both the township and city. Once it’s done based on their recommendations, it goes to the permitting phase.
“How it’s going to be serviced by utilities, so you have site plan review. There will be utility plans that have to be developed — we’re talking electricity, water, sewer. All of that requires planning and construction and permitting,” Perry said.
According to Perry, the land transfers, rezoning and permitting phases are expected to take about two years. Ford expects to have the plant up running by 2026.
Ford plans to have the plant produce lithium phosphate batteries for their electric fleet, which Western Michigan University Professor of Chemical and Paper Engineering Qingliu Wu says are made of more accessible and less expensive materials.
“Based on chemistry, phosphate should be much (safer) than oxides,” Wu explained. “So, this material can address two big issues that they face in the current battery market — one is cost, one is safety.”
The goal of the Ford plant is to lower the cost of electric battery vehicles, dropping the cost low enough that the average person can but an electric vehicle.
“These batteries are the most affordable battery chemistry there is,” Jim Farley, the Ford president and CEO said.
The second section of land from the megasite is expected to be transferred from the township to the city next week. Township administrators will meet Monday, Feb. 10, before city leaders convene the next day.
— News 8’s Amanda Porter contributed to this report.