Michigan is Top 20 in Wind, Aging Sewers Blamed for Beach Closings

As heard Aug. 17, 2o12, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM …

1. Michigan is a Top 20 state for wind energy. 

But the wind power industry is facing uncertain times, says a new U.S. Department of Energy report.

The Wind Technologies Market Report says 2011 capacity additions have risen from 2010 levels and a further sizable increase is expected this year.

Still, key federal tax incentives for wind energy are set to expire at the end of this year, which could slow new construction in 2013.

The report lists Michigan as 11th in the U.S. when it comes to wind energy capacity. The state has a standard that requires utilities to increase their renewable generation to 10 percent by 2015.

The report also mentions construction of the Thumb Loop Transmission Project, which is ongoing and will provide additional capacity for wind power generation in the state. Several wind projects are operating and under construction in Michigan’s Thumb.

Department of Energy officials say wind power additions Increased in 2011, with roughly 6.8 gigawatts of new capacity added in the U.S., and $14 billion invested.

Wind power also comprised 32 percent of U.S. electric generating capacity additions in 2011, up from 25% in 2010.

2. Aging infrastructure is partly to blame for a rise in Michigan beach advisories and closings.

That’s according to the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, which represents  nearly 600 Michigan companies.

An association spokesman notes that the number of monitored public beaches with advisories or closings has continued to increase each year between 2005 and 2010, according to the most recent formal report available from the Michigan Department of
Environmental Quality.

So far this year, there have been about 100 beach advisories or closings, up from less than 90 in 2011.

This points to the increasing need to fix the state’s aging underground water and sewer systems, the association says.

There are bills moving through the state House and Senate that would provide easier access to funding for municipalities to pay the cost of evaluating and separating their combined storm and sanitary sewer systems. The legislation supports a $1 billion sewer bond program approved by voters in 2002, but there hasn’t been much action on the bills since May, when they were referred to committees.

The association calls the state’s aging underground infrastructure “a hidden menace” that becomes more costly to repair each year that repairs are delayed.

Bay County has seen several contamination advisories or closings at public beaches in the last two months.

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