Strange But True: A Small Mid-Michigan Town that Consumes More Electricity Than Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan with nearly 200,000 residents. Yet as incredible as it is to believe, there is a small mid-Michigan town that consumes more power every year than mighty Grand Rapids - if this conspiracy theory is to be believed.
The revelation first came to light in an Ask Reddit thread titled, What is the Scariest Conspiracy Theory if True. User jjfricko replied,
That there is a small town in mid Michigan that somehow consumes more power than Grand Rapids, Michigan
And did that get the conversation going. The answers pretty quickly landed on Midland, the home of Dow Chemical and Hemlock Semiconductor. What the heck is Hemlock Semiconductor? Just the largest consumer of electricity in the state of Michigan. Outside of the hamlet of Hemlock, population 1585, Hemlock Semiconductor
is a joint venture of the Dow Chemical Co., Corning Inc. and Shin-Etsu Chemical of Japan. (Dow Chemical is headquartered in nearby Midland, MI.) The company makes polycrystalline silicon, known more commonly as polysilicon, by melting quartz rock to get metallurgical grade silicon as the start of one of the most complex chemical processes in the world. The end product sold to the semiconductor industry is 99.999999999 percent pure. Hemlock is the only U.S. supplier to the semiconductor industry. It is the largest consumer of electricity in Michigan and annually consumes more electricity than all the residents and businesses of Lansing and Ann Arbor combined.
According to someone who's worked there:
I worked alongside HSC when I worked at Dow Corning. I even toured the plant. Their peak consumption is about 400MW. Electricity is actually apart of the refining process. I don't remember the specifics but they basically "grow" the silicon on energized rods.
Here's an overhead look at the Hemlock Semiconductor site between Midland and Saginaw: