More Michigan Renewables, Updated Fish Finder, Saginaw Pollinator Project

For Friday, May 25, 2017

1- Michigan’s two largest utilities have announced plans to increase their commitments to renewable energy.

They say it’s based on a continued transition away from coal and in response to customer demand.

3824102429_673ae556f0_b

Credit: Jim Sorbie

According to Midwest Energy News, DTE Energy says it will add 6,000 megawatts of renewable energy from wind and solar, and retire all of its coal power plants by about 2040. At that time, DTE says 60 percent of its portfolio will come from wind, solar and nuclear, and the remainder will come from natural gas.

Consumers Energy has applied for a tariff with state regulators to allow large commercial customers to purchase generation from new renewable energy projects. Consumers says the three-year, voluntary pilot program is in response to growing demand from corporations for renewable energy.

2 – A fish finding tool has been updated.

michigan-fish-finder (2)

via MDNR

The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer features more than 40 streams that represent a range of conditions in terms of stream size, temperature and Great Lakes access.

The focus is on streams with long-term data and naturally reproducing populations of trout, salmon and bass that provide users with information on self-sustaining fish populations around the state.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources launched the app in 2014.

Officials say it’s useful for fishery managers, anglers, conservation groups, and the public.

The Stream Fish Population Trend Viewer can be found at mcgi.state.mi.us/fishpop/#.

3 – The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy seeks volunteers for a Pollinator Project in Saginaw.

This year, the conservancy plans to turn vacant lots on 50 sites into natural spaces.

The plan is to replace trash, old tires, and overgrown weeds on vacant lots with native wildflowers and prairie grasses. When converted, the lots will only need to be mowed once every few years.

Leaders say the project will reduce the burden of local government for maintenance and improve the visual condition of neighborhoods throughout the city.

The conservancy plans to start the work in coming weeks. Anyone interested in volunteering can call the conservancy at (989) 891-9986.

– 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

 

Staying Warm: Largest Energy Efficiency Standards in History

For Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

1 – State policies to spur renewable energy have billions in benefits.

A new study estimates $2.2 billion in national benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions due to state renewable portfolio standards, like one in Michigan that ended in 2015.

retro-analysis-nrel

Find the report here

Another $5.2 billion in benefits came from national reductions in other air pollution.

The U.S. Department of Energy report looked at policies in effect during 2013.

Michigan’s 10 percent by 2015 standard for renewable energy was signed into law in 2008, and resulted in the construction of numerous wind farms, primarily in the Thumb region.

The report also shows national water withdrawals were reduced by 830 billion gallons and consumption was cut by 27 billion gallons.

Although the study takes a national view, the authors say many of the associated benefits and impacts were highly regional.

For example, the economic benefits from air pollution reductions were associated mostly with reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and were concentrated primarily in areas including the Great Lakes.

– Fact Sheet

2 – Up to $5 million is available for local governments, nonprofits and other organizations to restore and enhance habitat in the Great Lakes basin.

Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public-private partnership, is taking pre-proposals until Feb. 17 for the funding.

Full proposals are due by April 21.

The program will award grants for on-the-ground habitat improvements.

The focus in this round is on improving the quality and connectivity of streams, riparian zones and coastal wetlands.

Preference will be given to projects designed to improve populations of species of conservation concern, including … native migratory fish such as brook trout and lake sturgeon, and marsh-spawning fish such as northern pike.

northern-pike-sikkema

Northern pike. Credit: Kelly Sikkema

Preference will also be given to projects that reduce sediment and nutrient loading to streams and other waters.

Up to $5 million is expected to be available for grant awards in 2016, with funding from partners including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

3 – It’s important to keep buildings warm in the winter.

And the cost and environmental impact of winter warmth will decline in coming years.

A U.S. agency has launched the largest energy efficiency standards in history.

They apply to commercial air conditioners and furnaces, used in buildings such as schools, restaurants, big-box stores and small offices.

It’s estimated that the changes will save more energy than any other standard ever issued by the U.S. Department of Energy.

winter-warmth-kart

Staying warm. Credit: Jeff Kart

Over the lifetime of the products, businesses will save $167 billion on utility bills and carbon pollution will be cut by 885 million metric tons, the energy department says.

The new air conditioning and furnace standards will occur in two phases.

The first will begin in 2018, with a 13 percent efficiency improvement in products.

Five years later, an additional 15% increase in efficiency is required.

The standards were developed in a rulemaking process with industry, utilities, and environmental groups.

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

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

Tripling Renewables, Raising Rates, Rebuilding Reef

For Friday, Dec. 11, 2015

1 – Michigan electric cooperatives are going above and beyond a state renewable energy standard.

According to Electric Co-op Today, electric cooperatives in Michigan plan to triple the state’s 10 percent requirement.

One deal is between Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative and Exelon Generation.

Exelon plans to break ground in the spring on a wind project in Sanilac County. When it begins delivering electricity in 2016, Wolverine expects to have more than 350 megawatts of wind in its portfolio, putting Michigan cooperatives at a 30 percent renewable level.

Michigan’s renewable energy standard was signed into law in 2008. It requires electric providers to draw at least 10 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2015.

– via GLREA

30-brian

2 – Consumers Energy is raising its electric rates, in part to focus on environmental protection.

Beginning Dec. 1, Consumers is increasing its electric rates by $130 million annually.

The utility plans to purchase an existing natural gas plant in Jackson and retire seven coal-fired units across the state.

Residential customers using 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month will see an increase of $1.88 on their monthly bill after the natural gas plant is acquired, according to state regulators.

In April 2016, the rate increase will be reduced by about 60 cents a month for residential customers when Consumers retires the seven coal plants.

The seven include two units at the J.C. Weadock plant in Bay County.

3 – Scientists from Central Michigan University are helping rebuild a reef for native fish.

They’re working with others from The Nature Conservancy and Michigan Department of Natural Resources to lower about 450 tons of limestone into Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay.

The reef is intended to help populations of lake herring, lake whitefish and lake trout.

(VIDEO)

An old reef was degraded by a dock built more than 130 years ago for the iron ore industry.

The project aims to mimic healthy reefs to encourage fish to spawn there, according to a CMU professor.

Rocks were selected from a local quarry to match the size, shape, and composition of cobble in two nearby healthy reefs.

Besides rebuilding the reef, the team also is working to control invasive species such as round goby and rusty crayfish, which prey on eggs spawned by native fish.

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

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter

Commercial Fishing May Return to Southern Lake Huron

For Friday, June 5, 2015

. . .

1 – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is exploring commercial fishing in Lake Huron, issuing a research permit to an existing Saginaw Bay commercial fisher.

lake whitefish minnesota dnr

Via the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan waters of southern Lake Huron have not been commercially fished in five decades, according to the DNR. The agency believes there could be an abundant stock of lake whitefish available for harvest.

The permit allows the fisher, from Pinconning, to explore lake whitefish populations beginning this month (June 2015). The fisher will be permitted to set large mesh trap nets on experimental fishing grounds. The location is several miles south of Harbor Beach and north of Port Sanilac.

The research fishery is expected to continue over the next three years, while the DNR monitors and evaluates fish populations.

2 – Native plants reduce stormwater runoff and attract wildlife. They also require less watering and don’t need fertilizers or pesticides to survive.

Information on native gardening is available on a new website from The Nature Conservancy.

The site aims to make it easy for gardeners to get started using plants native to their area in yards and gardens.

You can answer four simple questions about your planting area, and the site will kick out a short list of plants that will thrive there.

There also are video clips.

The site is at nature.org/GoNative.

3 – Michigan is more than halfway toward meeting a clean power goal.

Clean power plan michigan union of concerned scientists

via UCS

A proposed Clean Power Plan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes benchmarks for states to reduce their carbon emissions by 2020.

An analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists says Michigan is one of eight states that are more than 50 percent toward meeting the 2020 Clean Power Plan benchmarks. The others include Indiana and Wisconsin.

The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Most of the reductions would be made by 2020.

The EPA plan is expected to be finalized this summer, and states will submit their own plans for meeting the targets.

-30-

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

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter

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.

EPA to Coal Plants: Get Your Ash in Order

For Jan. 9, 2015

1 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the first national regulations on the safe disposal of coal combustion residuals, also called coal ash, from coal-fired power plants.

tva coal ash spill 2008

View of the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant fly ash spill. Credit: Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons

The final rule includes safeguards to protect communities from coal ash impoundment failures and prevent groundwater contamination and air emissions from coal ash disposal.

The EPA assessed more than 500 facilities across the country after the failure in 2008 of a TVA coal ash pond in Kingston, Tennessee. Those assessments included the Karn-Weadock complex run by Consumers Energy in Bay County’s Hampton Township. The EPA rated the condition of disposal facilities at the local complex as “satisfactory.”

Improperly constructed or managed coal ash disposal units have been linked to nearly 160 cases of harm to surface water, groundwater, and air, the EPA says.

These first federal requirements include regular inspections of surface impoundments, and restrictions on the location of new impoundments and landfills so that they can’t be built in sensitive areas such as wetlands.

The rule also requires facilities to post information online, including annual groundwater monitoring results and corrective action reports.

2 – Information on Great Lakes currents is currently available.

The Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor is posting the visualizations online.

The flow patterns depicted in the visualizations are based on simulations from the Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System operated by the lab.

The lab is arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Online, you can see snapshots of water motion at the present time and from three hours ago, including conditions on Saginaw Bay.

The maps use the same technology developed for mapping winds, and the potential for wind energy generation.

 

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

Consumers Energy Cuts Pollution, Huron Pines Reconnects Rivers, and Saginaw Bay Charters Hook More Walleye

For Sept. 19, 2014

 

1 – Consumers Energy has reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Credit: Jerry 'Woody'

Credit: Jerry ‘Woody’

The agreement will reduce emissions at coal-fired power plants in Bay County and other parts of Michigan, and fund projects to benefit the environment and communities.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Consumers has agreed to install pollution control technology to reduce harmful air pollution from the company’s five coal-fired power plants, including the Karn-Weadock complex in Bay County’s Hampton Township.

The settlement with EPA resolves claims that the company violated the Clean Air Act by modifying their facilities and releasing excess sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

EPA expects the actions required by the settlement will reduce harmful emissions by more than 46,500 tons per year. The company estimates that it will spend more than $1 billion to implement the required measures.

The settlement requires the company to pay a civil penalty of $2.75 million and at least $7.7 million on environmental efforts to help mitigate the harmful effects of air pollution and benefit local communities. The new spending will include up to $4 million on the development or installation of renewable energy projects.

Consumers officials say the agreement does not include any admission of wrongdoing.

Consumers says its operation and those of many U.S. energy providers were reviewed as part of an EPA enforcement initiative that began in 1999. That initiative has resulted in more than 25 settlements nationwide.

2Several areas in Michigan will benefit from $12 million in grants for Great Lakes restoration.

The money comes from Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public-private partnership that includes the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and ArcelorMittal, a steel and mining company.

The grants cover 31 projects to restore and enhanced wetlands in the basin, restore fish passage and improve habitat, and control invasive species.

Ten of those projects are in Michigan.

Huron Pines in Gaylord received money to replace three culverts and reconnect nine miles of the Black River with Lake Huron and provide stream access for coaster brook trout and other fish. The nonprofit also will conduct work in the Cheyboygan River watershed to reconnect 20 upstream miles, reduce sediment inputs, and improve fish habitat.

3Lake Huron is back, especially when it comes to fishing.

A recent report from the state Department of Natural Resources says the number of charter fishing trips taken on the lake in 2013 was the second-highest in the past five years.

There has been continued improvement in the lake’s walleye fishery.

The average Lake Huron charter fishing party targeting walleye could expect to come home with nine walleye in the cooler in 2010 and release another three. In 2013, the average walleye charter trip produced 14 fish for the table and another eight that were released.

Most of the lake’s walleye fishing is concentrated in Saginaw Bay.

According to calculations by Michigan State University and other partners, more than $671,000 in personal income was generated by Michigan’s charter fishing industry at Lake Huron ports in 2013; with a total economic output of $1.82 million.

 

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

%d bloggers like this: