Where Does Your Christmas Tree Come From? And Grading Michigan’s Renewable and Efficiency Programs

For Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

1Where does your Christmas tree come from?

christmas trees oregon

Credit: Wonderlane

If it’s a real tree, it’s mostly likely to come from North Carolina or Oregon. That’s nationally.

According to The Washington Post and federal data, American tree farmers harvest at least 17 million Christmas trees each year, and nearly half come from North Carolina and Oregon.

What about Michigan?

Our state, along with New England, the mid-Atlantic and Wisconsin are near the top for Christmas tree harvests in the U.S.

In 2012, just over 3,900 Christmas trees were harvested in Bay County. There were just over 2,200 harvested in Saginaw County, and just 128 in Midland County.

In Michigan, about 1.7 million trees were cut from from more than 700 farms.

In case you wondered, artificial trees are still king when it comes to sales.

2Michigan has received passing grades for its solar energy policies, but there’s room for improvement.

The state gets a B for net metering and a C for interconnection in a report from Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, both advocacy groups.

At least it’s better than the F received for net metering and a D for interconnection, both in 2008.

Net metering and interconnection are policies that allow energy customers to use rooftop solar and other small-scale renewables to meet their own electricity needs.

States at the top of the class this year include Ohio, along with California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Utah.

The report is designed as a resource for policymakers, regulators and stakeholders to build upon clean energy progress that many states have achieved to date.

The groups say net metering and interconnection are some of the primary state policies driving growth in the American clean energy field.

3Energy efficiency is cost effective.

Michigan funding for energy optimization programs in 2013 was $253 million, which will result in savings of $948 million for electric and natural gas utility customers.

That means that for every dollar spent on energy optimization programs in Michigan in 2013, customers saw benefits of about $3.75 by eliminating energy waste.

The figures are according to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s annual report on a 2008 law.

The report shows that overall, the programs saved 132 percent of what they were targeted for by electric utilities, and 121 percent for natural gas utilities.

The savings equate to the annual electric usage of about 121,000 households and the annual natural gas usage of about 58,000 households.

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The Detroit Lions Won’t Win the Great Lakes Bowl, But Water Levels Will Flood Beaches

For Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/xvn0qcgss4o9ezp/11-28-2014-mrgreatlakes.mp3]

1 – Registration is open for Great Lakes Bowl.

The Great Lakes Bowl is part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, an academic competition where teams of high school students compete for the regional and national title.

The matches feature quiz-bowl style rounds and challenge questions that test a team’s ocean and Great Lakes knowledge.

The questions focus on math and science related to biology, chemistry, geology, physics, technology, history and economics.

Regional competitions are held throughout the nation in February and March.

The next Great Lakes Bowl is set for Feb. 7 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The national competition is in April in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

The Great Lakes Bowl will award cash, trophies, medals and other prizes to top finishers.

There’s a limit of 16 teams, approved on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline is Dec. 19.

The last bowl featured schools from around the state, including Standish-Sterling Central High School in Standish. The first-place trophy went to a team from Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, which placed sixth nationally. The national champions were from Boise High School in Idaho.


2 – How will lake level changes affect a shoreline? You can see visualizations for the Saginaw Bay area and other parts of Michigan using a Lake Level Viewer from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

pinconning great lakes water levels noaa viewer

High water levels in Pinconning, Michigan. Via the Lake Level Viewer.

The tool is intended to help communities along the U.S. Great Lakes plan for, and adapt to, climate change and changes in lake water levels.

You can use it to zoom in on places like Pinconning, and see how the area would be affected by changes in water levels.

You can compare the levels ranging from zero to six feet above and below average lake level.

The amount of  beach and other land under water quickly changes depending on the levels you choose.

More than 4,900 miles of U.S. shoreline ring the Great Lakes, of which 3,800 miles are currently mapped on the Lake Level Viewer.

The tool also covers areas in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

— 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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