Green Energy, Saginaw Wind Turbines & Phasing Out Light Bulbs

The Environment Report, now with Audio. This airs Jan. 7, 2011 on Delta College Q-90.1 FM public radio. Text follows …

Environment Report, Jan. 7, 2011 by jeffkart

1.

Consumers Energy provides the most green power among Michigan utilities.

A state law requires utilities to get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar by the year 2015.

So far, Consumers Energy is at 4.7 percent, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission. DTE Energy is at 2.5 percent. Across the state, 3.63 percent of Michigan’s energy comes from renewables.

Consumers Energy operates its largest generating complex, the coal-fired Karn-Weadock plants, in Bay County’s Hampton Township.

The utility has contracted for 396 megawatts of renewable energy, mostly wind power.

Eight megawatts is in commercial operation.

An additional 388 megawatts is due to be online by the end of 2012, according to the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.

2.

In other energy news, plans for Michigan-made wind turbines are off to a good start.

The Public Service Commission has approved power purchase agreements between Consumers Energy and Heritage Sustainable Energy. The agreements, totaling 41 megawatts, are for Garden Wind Farm in Delta County and Stoney Corners 2 in Missaukee and Osceola counties.

According to the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, the agreements will result in the first large-scale production of utility-scale wind turbines made entirely in Michigan by Northern Power Systems and a key supplier — Merrill Technologies Group.

Northern Power Systems will build the direct-drive wind turbines at a Saginaw plant. The company expects to employ up to 137 people by 2014.

3.

Incandescent bulbs are on their way out, in favor of more energy efficient CFLs and LEDs.

The 100-watt incandescent will be the first light bulb to be banned from U.S. stores, beginning in Jan. 1, 2012.

By 2014, most traditional incandescent light bulbs will be phased out. That’s due to a federal law passed by Congress in 2007.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued new guidelines for cleaning up broken CFLs, or compact fluorescent light bulbs.

CFLs contain a tiny drop of mercury, but experts say the amount of mercury they keep out of the environment is greater. Less coal has to be burned to power a CFL, for instance.

If a CFL breaks, the EPA now says the amount of mercury released as vapor is within the safe range for adults.

***

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