Michigan Clean Tech Jobs, Powerley App and New Energy Stats

For Friday, March 27, 2015

1Michigan is No. 4. Our state ranks fourth nationally in the number of clean energy jobs.

The state holds the spot based on strong hiring for electric vehicle production and the solar industry supply chain, according to Environmental Entrepreneurs, a Chicago-based business organization that tracks job creation in the clean energy sector.

The group says that in 2014, Michigan companies added 3,600 new jobs tied to clean energy projects.

Nationwide, there were nearly 47,000 such jobs involving 170 projects. Michigan trailed Nevada, California and New York in the number of clean technology jobs created.

The group is urging Congress to take up federal tax credits that support clean energy production. More than half of businesses surveyed by Environmental Entrepreneurs said they would likely increase investment levels if federal clean energy tax credits were extended.

– Via Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council

2Information on how much energy your home uses may be an app away.

powerley powerscan

Credit: Powerley

DTE Energy, the Michigan electric utility, has announced a new venture called Powerley. It’s a joint project with Vectorform, a global design and technology firm.

Powerley was announced earlier this month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The Powerley platform is designed to allow utility companies to present real-time energy consumption information to their customers.

Customers using the app are able to track their energy consumption patterns, set goals, tackle energy-saving projects and compare usage with friends.

DTE already has a real-time mobile application called DTE Insight. Powerly aims to take the technology to other utilities, using an advanced meter and energy bridge device.

The app can be used with Android or Apple smartphones, and provides utility customers with complete, real-time breakdowns of their energy consumption.

3 – Much of Michigan’s biomass energy comes from the state’s almost 19 million acres of forest land.

Biomass provided fuel for 35 percent of Michigan’s renewable net electricity generation in 2014.

Those are some of latest statistics from new State Energy Profiles released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Some other Quick Facts:

  • In 2013, Michigan had more underground natural gas storage capacity – 1.1 trillion cubic feet – than any other state in the nation.
  • In 2014, Michigan’s three nuclear power plants, with four reactor units, provided 30 percent  of the state’s net electricity generation.
  • Michigan used coal for half of its net electricity generation in 2014.  Much of our coal is brought by rail from Wyoming and Montana.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow me @jeffkart on Twitter.

For Spring: Targeting Mosquitoes, Oak Wilt and Saginaw Bay Invasives

For Friday, March 13, 2015

1 – Spring is coming, and so are the bugs.

scrap tire mosquitoes

Credit: Fran Ontanaya

Bay County and other counties across Michigan are planning events to collect scrap tires, which can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The state recently awarded $587,000 in grants for scrap tire drop-off events and other tire cleanups across Michigan. Drop-off events will be held in the spring and summer. Besides Bay County, grants also went to Saginaw, Arenac and Tuscola counties. Last year, Bay County collected more than 2,600 tires at two drop-off events. The tires were hauled away and recycled. – via Bay County newsletter

2 – Spring arrives officially on March 20. And now is the best time to prune your trees so they are less likely to be attacked by summer bugs and pathogens.

But take care if you have oak trees. The Bay County Gypsy Moth program says Oak Wilt is a concern. Last summer, the state departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued a Pest Alert about the dangers of Oak Wilt, a  fungal disease that kills oak trees, mainly red oaks.

Classical symptoms of oak wilt on red oak leaves.  Credit: Michigan State University

Classical symptoms of oak wilt on red oak leaves. Credit: Michigan State University

Oak Wilt has not been found in Bay County yet, but residents are advised NOT to prune oak trees during the growing season. If you need to prune oaks, DO NOT prune them between April 15 and July 15. Oak Wilt was detected in more than 40 counties last year, including Saginaw, Midland, Gladwin, Roscommon and Oscoda.

3 – The Saginaw Conservation District is fighting invasive plants in 22 counties.

The District, part of a group called the Saginaw Bay Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, is using $300,000 in state funding to fight invasive plants in the 22 counties that make up the Saginaw Bay watershed. Officials say the work will focus on the use of an early detection rapid response team to find and treat invasive species at a low cost and with a high rate of success. Targeted plants include Japanese knotweed, phragmites, and black and pale shallow-wort. All of these can crowd out and displace native plants.

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Support for Proposal 1, Grant Money for Saginaw Bay, Resources for Solar

For Friday, March 6, 2015

1 – There’s a proposal for a sales tax and roading funding measure on the May 5 ballot.

Credit: Ben W

Credit: Ben W

The Michigan Environmental Council, a nonprofit coalition of more than 70 environmental and other groups, is supporting the plan.

The Council says Proposal 1 is the state’s best chance to build a safe, reliable and modern transportation system.

If approved, the proposal will increase annual support for transit and bring in new revenue for roads and bridges, public schools and local government services, the Council says.

Proposal 1 also would provide more funding for a Recreation Improvement Fund, which supports work by the Department of Natural Resources on trails and helps maintain and improve harbors, marinas and public boat launches.

The measure would increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, but exempt motor fuel.

 

2 – There’s grant money available for everything from physical improvements to outreach in the Saginaw Bay Area.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, funded by area foundations, has announced its 2015 Community Action Mini Grant Program.

The key word for these grants is sustainability – or projects that have economic, environmental and community impacts. Some ideas include projects that involve recreation, community gardens, farmers markets, energy efficiency and recycling.

Funding of up to $1,000 per project is available. The deadline to apply is March 20, and eligible organizations including nonprofits, local governments and schools.

See SaginawBayWIN.org for more information.

 

3 – If you want to go solar, you might want to go to SolarPermit.org.

The website is a national solar permitting database that provides information on permitting for solar power in jurisdictions across the country.

That includes average permit turnaround times and contact information for individual jurisdictions.

The site’s creation was supported by a U.S. Department of Energy grant.

It’s still being developed and there aren’t any local Michigan cities listed just yet.

SolarPermit.org is an interactive, crowd-sourced website. The database is populated primarily by solar installers.

 

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Battleground: Smartphone App Fights Invasive Species, Groups Fight for Rivers and Lakes

For Friday, Feb. 27, 2015

1If you see a crime, call 911. If you see an invasive critter, use the app.

A smartphone application developed by a scientist at Michigan State University lets folks snap a photo, log a few quick notes, and send an alert to the invasive species police.

These critter cops are a growing network of scientists and state officials who can use the information to respond to threats from invasives.

The free app is part of the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network, a regional effort to enhance early detection, rapid response, and better manage invasive species.

Developers of the app say reports logged by smartphone users will help map the spread of invasives, and help state agencies deploy more effective management plans.

Invasives to look out for in Michigan include the killer shrimp, sea lamprey, Japanese knotweed, and the emerald ash borer.

Teachers in the Chicago area are already using the app, teaming up with local foresters.


2Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord, has a story to tell about its accomplishments in 2014.

The organization is holding its annual meeting on Saturday, where it will be sharing its annual report.

According to a copy of the report, Northeast Michigan’s environment saw many improvement last year as a result of Huron Pine projects.

That includes the Northern Saginaw Bay Restoration Initiative.

That intiative aims to improve water quality in the Rifle, Au Gres and Tawas river watersheds. In 2014, Huron Pines improved five road and stream crossings to reconnect more than 17 upstream miles of aquatic habitat.

The nonprofit also worked with private landowners and agricultural producers to reduce streambank erosion and runoff from farms.

An additional 20 acres were treated for invasive phragmites along the Lake Huron coast.

 

3Advocates have been busy this week, urging members of Congress to protect the Great Lakes.

The effort is known as Great Lakes Day. Members of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition were among those involved. Programs on the radar include the federally funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

This is a special year for Great Lakes Day. The Joyce Foundation this week launched a new website called Great Lakes Great Impact.

The coalition spent time showing videos from the site to members of Congress about the impact of Great Lakes restoration around the region.

You can view the videos online at GreatLakesGreatImpact.org.

#GreatLakesDay

 

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

 

More Waste Landfilled, Clean Energy Obstacles, and a New Statewide Trail

For Friday, Feb. 13, 2015

1 – Michiganders sent more waste to landfills last year.

That’s according to the Department of Environmental Quality’s 19th annual solid waste report for fiscal year 2014.

Residents increased waste sent to landfills by more than 2 million cubic yards, or 5.6 percent.

Officials say the jump can be seen as a sign of the state’s economic resurgence. It also underscores the importance of efforts to increase residential recycling.

Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to double Michigan’s residential recycling rate in the next two years.

Plans include developing new markets for recyclable metals, plastics and wood.

The DEQ also is working with cities and townships to increase access to recycling, measure progress, and provide technical assistance and education.

At this time, Michigan landfills have about 26 years left of remaining disposal capacity.

- Report of Solid Waste Landfilled in Michigan: Oct. 1, 2013-Sept. 30, 2014

 

2 – The Great Lakes state faces obstacles when it comes to getting more of its energy from cleaner sources.

A new report, produced by 5 Lakes Energy and funded by the Mott Foundation, includes 40 recommendations to enable Michigan to accelerate its progress.

The recommendations include reducing energy waste by expanding financing options for energy upgrades.

We also could modernize our electric generation and delivery, such as increasing our 10 percent renewable standard for regulated utilities, due to expire this year.

Another recommendation is to electrify our transportation sector, including incentives to get more electric vehicles on the road.

Credit: Incase

Credit: Incase

 3 – Iron Belle Trail is the newly picked name for Michigan’s planned, statewide hiking and bicycling trail.

The trail is due to stretch from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.

The state Department of Natural Resources recently announced the name, after sifting through almost 9,000 suggestions.

Iron Belle Trail is a work in progress, but portions of the trail already exist, and are open for public recreation.

The Iron Belle Trail will stretch across Michigan and link numerous existing trails to provide hiking and bicycling routes. A map of the plans shows proposed bicycle trails running through Northeast Michigan.

The DNR is seeking private and public funding to secure and develop trail corridors for the cross-state trail. The agency says temporary connectors are in place along much of the trail and will be made permanent as resources become available.

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

 

Trail Towns and Urban Farming in Michigan

For Jan. 23, 2015

1 – The East Coast concept of Trail Towns is coming to Michigan.

Trail Town committees have sprouted up in areas including the Thumb. It’s the result of a year-long Coastal Zone Management grant, according to the Michigan State University Extension, and aimed at promoting sustainable tourism.

Leaders in the Thumb, which includes Huron and Tuscola counties, have been active in outfitting their downtown areas and trail networks to attract visitors.

In 2014, the governor signed legislation that established the Pure Michigan Trail Network.

Communities can establish a Trail Town by developing their own strategy or look at adopting a “Four Point Approach” that includes organization, promotion, design and economics.

 

2 -Delta College is teaching people about urban farming.

 

The college, along with an area group called the Wildroot Food Collective, is offering an Urban Farming series of workshops.

The series is geared toward backyard gardeners, chicken enthusiasts and others interested in local foods.

Sessions will include demonstrations, discussions, and hands-on activities led by local experts.

The Wildroot Food Collective is a farm-to-table operation that hopes to transform the region into a hub of local eateries, growers, and consumers.

The benefits of urban farming include growing what you need, where you live, and decreasing the miles associated with the long-distance transportation of foods.

Six topics will be explored during the sessions, including soil health, growing in small spaces, raising chickens, and taking your goods to market.

The series starts Monday, Jan. 26, and runs through March 28. The cost for all six sessions is $149.

For more information, see delta.edu/urbanfarming.

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

$10 Million for Saginaw Bay, and the (Low) Cost of Wind Power

For Friday, Jan. 16, 2015

1 – A total of $10 million in federal funding is coming to Saginaw Bay.

saginaw bay

Credit: Matt Stehouwer

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Conservation Partnership has been selected to receive the money under a new program created by the 2014 Farm Bill.

The initiative will help farmers improve the water quality and wildlife habitat in the Saginaw Bay watershed, which has problems with phosphorus and nutrient sediment runoff.

The Michigan Agri-Business Association and Nature Conservancy will lead 35 local partners to restore acres of wetlands, reduce excessive sediments and nutrients in the watershed, and monitor long-term trends in the fish population and habitat, according to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

The funding is part of $40 million going to conservation projects across Michigan and the Great Lakes region. The others are in western Lake Erie and the St. Joseph River.

Farm runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms, beach closings and unsafe drinking water.

 

2Leaders will discuss the future of wind power in Michigan next week.

The American Wind Energy Association is holding its State Wind Energy Forum in East Lansing on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Business, community and political leaders will attend, including representatives from Consumers Energy and Huron County.

The forum will take place at Michigan State University.

The agenda includes a panel discussion on proposed federal rules for reducing carbon pollution at existing coal-fired power plants.

An upcoming federal Wind Vision report also will be discussed. The report says American wind power is on track to double by 2020 and double again by 2030.

Michigan has 1,350 megawatts of installed wind capacity, enough to power more than 230,000 homes.

The American Wind Energy Association says wind power has the potential to meet 163 percent of the state’s current electricity needs.

 

3Can you spare $2.60 a month?

That’s how much it would cost the average household to expand Michigan’s renewable energy portfolio standard to 25 percent over the next 10 years.

A report from the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute says the price tag could even be cut in half if key federal tax credits are extended.

Michigan utilities are on pace to meet a 10 percent goal for renewable energy generation by the end of this year.

The report follows a failed 2012 ballot initiative to expand the state’s standard to 25 percent by 2025. A utility-backed group claimed a higher standard would be too expensive.

Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder are expected to propose policy changes this year, since the current 10 percent standard is due to expire.

– via Midwest Energy News

 

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

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