Power up: The National Power & Light plant from Menards

Posted by Bob Keller
on Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The National Power & Light building is a serious structure that says 'We've got a city full of HD TVs to power, so get out of our way!'

The Menards building line has produced some amazing structures. The mega-buildings they have made (the American Power & Light, Morton Salt plant, Pepsi bottling plant) have set a new standard for large O gauge industrial structures.

It is hard to believe that the American Power & Light power plant arrived in March of 2016. The building was a fast sell-out at Menards and it has commanded some pretty high prices in the secondary market. If you missed it and balk at paying more than double the original price, opportunity may be striking.

Menards has released the no. 279-4844 National Power & Light Company. This is a re-issue of the APL, but with some nice variations.

The footprint is still approximately 14 ½ by 9 ½ inches. You still have the many security lights, rooftop details, and power transformers with flashing lights. It also has the train run-through which is a great spot to park your coal hoppers (loaded or empty).

National Power, however, has a gray paint scheme with smokestacks painted black and red for aircraft visibility. The stand-out feature of the NPL signage with flashing lightning bolts!

The sign sequences through a cycle with the company’s name illuminated and the lightning bolts flashing downward in 1/3 segments, as though a bolt was coming down from the sky. This is a very impressive graphic!

For illumination, National Power requires a Menards 4.5 volt power supply, Menards SKU 279-4061, 279-4062, or 279-4050. You may wish to use the no. 279-4681 9-piece Plug & Play accessory kit to serve multiple structures and vehicles. All are available separately.

The structure costs $99.99 ($10 more than the 2016 original) and can be ordered from Menards.com/Trains. Select free shipment to your local Menards.


In dim light the security lighting and transformer lights may draw the eye, but the lightning bolt action is what will be the crowd pleaser.

Large air ducts, smoke stacks, and the transformers with lights make this a visual delight.

Signs, doors, and safety warnings help create an image of real power plant detailing.

This is a tall structure with angles and shapes that draw the eye in for a closer look.

You can remove the rear insert for a train run-through or as a functional siding for placement of hopper cars.

Seen from above, loads in from the left and empties out from the right!

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