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Home / News & Reviews / Product Reviews / National Power & Light power plant by Menards

National Power & Light power plant by Menards

By Bob Keller | January 7, 2020

An updated version of a power plant

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Bill Zuback
National Power & Light power plant by Menards

Price: $99.95 (no. 279-4844) Features: Illuminated signage, flashing transformer lighting, removable run-through access for mainline running or freight car placement. Lighting requires a Menards 4.5-volt power supply (nos. SKU 279-4050, 279-4061, and 279-4062). For more information go to

When Menards came out with the American Power & Light building, it was an astonishing structure model for O gauge in terms of its size and price. The building had a good compressed footprint that could represent a portion of a power plant, and it presented a credible destination for all those hopper cars rolling around your layout. It sold out fairly quickly and at the time I wrote this review has been selling for as much as $250 on the secondary market.

So I was a little surprised when the Wisconsin-based home-improvement chain reissued the structure. Bad news for someone waiting to sell a stack of the original buildings, but good for Joe or Jane layout owner.

As near as I can tell, the key elements of the structure is the same building as first released. The model still has a 9½ by 14½-inch footprint. The only difference I note is the original structure came with a base that supported the run-through. Presumably this was for protection during shipment. The damage rate must have been very low, because that is gone.

The two major cosmetic changes are good. I bought the original power plant and liked the decoration. I might have preferred the blue steel of many industrial buildings, but I was never motivated to break out the paints.

The new model is a pleasing industrial gray I found appealing. The smokestacks are black with red and white stripes up top for better visibility for aircraft.

The star of the show is the National Power & Light sign. The company name is in white on a black background – with twin lightning bolts. The cool thing about the bolts is they illuminate in sequence – the upper third, the middle third, and the lower third re-creating a bolt from above.

The rest of the detailing has the same appeal. The large number of windows and security lights, the multiple windows, rooftop ducts, and of course, the power transformers with flashing lights.

You can use the building with or without power. If you do wish it to illuminate, you will need to get a Menards 4.5-volt power system available separately.

So a word to the wise: If you missed the American Power & Light building, now is your chance to get this new version.

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