Comments on Michigan Air Contaminants, Updates on Renewable Energy

For Feb. 17, 2017

1 – All of Michigan’s electric providers met or exceeded the 10 percent renewable energy standard in 2015.

Michigan’s new renewable standard will increase to 12.5 percent in 2019 and 2020 and 15 percent in 2021.

A Michigan Public Service Commission annual report says meeting the 2015 standard can be credited with the development of more than 1,670 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy projects.

The average price of existing renewable energy contracts also is considerably less than was forecast in initial renewable energy plans.

The report notes that wind energy has been the primary source of new renewable energy in Michigan and about $3.3 billion has been invested to bring new renewable energy projects online through 2016.

The average cost per megawatt hour for renewable energy also has been substantially lower than the cost of a new coal-fired plant.

2 – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is taking comments through April 14 for more than 1,200 health-based screening levels used in its Permit to Install Air Permitting Program.

The public comment period is the result of rule revisions that took effect in December and require all screening levels and their origins be posted for public review with comments accepted for 60 days.

The state’s air program aims to protect public health by regulating toxic chemicals in industrial air emissions.

michigan tree snow wind

Credit: GollyGforce

Under the new rules, the emission of a toxic air contaminant cannot result in a maximum ambient air concentration that exceeds a health-based screening level.

Previously, memos describing the reasons behind screening levels were only available upon request. Now they’re open for review and public comment through April 14.

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– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

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CMU Studies Freshwater Contaminants, Michigan Gains Solar Jobs

For Feb. 10, 2017

1 – Contaminants of emerging concern are in everyday products from soap to pharmaceuticals.

But their environmental impact is largely unknown. A Central Michigan University biologist is studying how these contaminants in the water and sediment affect the ecosystems and life cycles of freshwater mussels.

Biologist Daelyn Woolnough is looking at freshwater mussels and largemouth bass, which act as hosts for mussel larvae.

Of the more than 40 freshwater mussel species in the Great Lakes, more than 70 percent are endangered or threatened. Their populations have been impacted by invasive species like the zebra mussel, and may be impacted by contaminants of emerging concern, which also include agricultural products.

Freshwater mussels filter water from the basins in which they reside, and they don’t move around like fish. So testing mussel tissue or contaminants will tell researchers what’s happening at the bottom of rivers.

The results may help inform management and conservation decisions.

2 – Michigan gained 1,339 solar industry jobs in 2016, representing a 48 percent increase in the state’s solar workforce.

A new National Solar Jobs Census from the nonprofit Solar Foundation says Michigan now has a total of 4,118 solar workers, up from 2,779 in 2015.

One out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry, representing 2 percent of all new jobs.

Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total solar industry employment increase by 10 percent.

In 2016, the five states with the most solar jobs were California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, and Florida.

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– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

Creating an Urban Park, and Keeping the Lights on in Michigan

For Friday, Feb. 3, 2017

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/rhfoh4jv2s7a4og/ENV%20RPT%20-%20ONLINE%202-3-17.mp3]

1 – More than 334 acres along the Saginaw River will be used for urban recreation.

The site of the former General Motors Saginaw Malleable Metals foundry and Greenpoint Landfill will be managed by the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Potential uses for the proposed Riverfront Park include hiking and biking trails, wildlife viewing, and catch-and-release fishing.

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The Saginaw River. Credit: Saginaw Future

Additional trails may connect the site to the Iron Belle Trail, downtown Saginaw and the nearby Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, according to The Nature Conservancy, which secured a grant for project planning.

In December, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended that the state Legislature approve a $290,000 grant to be used for trail development and other improvements.

2 – Michigan should have enough energy to keep the lights on, even in challenging times.

The Michigan Public Service Commission says current utility projects should result in Michigan’s electric reliability remaining strong in the summer of 2018.

Officials note, however, that developing additional resources in the Lower Peninsula as a backup plan would be appropriate.

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Credit: Travis Wise

The study looked at a scenario that occurred in 2012, in which electrical demand hits very high levels and two nuclear plants are unexpectedly down.

The study showed that lower Michigan should be able to keep the lights on if that happens. But it also showed that more of a cushion is needed between now and the summer of 2018 just in case things don’t go as planned.

Demand response resources, in which users agree to use less electricity when demand is spiking, on a very hot day for instance, can be put in place before the summer of 2018, according to the Commission.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

 

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