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.

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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

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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

Water Strategy, Solarize Michigan, Clean Your Hunting Dogs

For Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/89ocmmjx3g2xlx3/ENV%20REPORT%2010-20-16.mp3]

1 – The final part of Michigan’s water strategy is out.sustaining-michigans-water-heritage

This is part four in a series of releases from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The final piece highlights recommendations and governance tools.

Primary recommendations include developing integrated monitoring systems, tracking groundwater use and working with tribal governments.

The next steps will involve outreach and education initiatives, and tracking progress.

The Water Strategy is a 30-year plan to protect, manage, and enhance Michigan’s water resources for current and future generations.

 

2 – The sun is setting on a solar program in the Tri-Cities.

Solarize Michigan was launched earlier this year by the nonprofit Institute for Energy Innovation and comes to a close on Oct. 31.

The program goal is to accelerate deployment of distributed solar power in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties by making the investment simpler and more affordable.

After a process that received dozens of inquiries and 10 proposals, three installers were selected. Program representatives held workshops and gave presentations to local service and community groups.

The program broke ground on its first project in June, and has since finalized 13 projects, adding more than 100 kilowatts of new capacity.

In the remaining days,organizers are working to sign-up more interested households in an effort to double the number of installations in the three counties.

– Via  http://eepurl.com/cj1B4b

 

3 – Waterfowl hunters can help stop the spread of invasive phragmites.

The plants are spreading across Michigan, and the state is calling on hunters to do their part.

New invasions of phragmites can start from windblown seeds or fragments of plant roots. These seeds and fragments can stick to hunting gear, including decoys and even dogs.

Hunters are encouraged to remove plants, seeds and mud from boots, pets, vehicles and gear before leaving a recreation or hunting site.

Hunters who notice invasive phragmites in areas where they haven’t seen them before are asked to report the sightings with a smartphone app.

– 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

 

Growing the Saginaw Children’s Zoo and Michigan Solar

For Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 –

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/7ct5pzjqolmck6i/childrens-zoo-solar-mrgreatlakes-9-23-2016.mp3]

1 – The Children’s Zoo in Saginaw owns about 16 acres of vacant land next to its developed zoo site.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is funding a project to turn the land into an outdoor classroom and nature play area.

The play area will include natural features such as boulders, logs, and native plants.

A nature trail will include signs geared toward families and children, to describe natural features on the land.

Invasive species on the property will be removed.

The project is slated for 2017.

2 – The solar industry is growing 10 times faster than the national economy.

That’s due to continuing technology improvements and declining costs, according to the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

A recently released Michigan Public Service Commission report says net metering and solar pilot programs increased by 20 percent in 2015.

That’s on top of 25 percent growth in solar deployment in 2014 and an 18 percent growth in 2013.

The Council says there’s still room for more, since Michigan’s two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE, have more than 80 percent of space left in their net metering programs.

Under Michigan’s net metering program, customers with on-site renewable energy systems like solar panels receive a credit on their bills for excess energy that’s generated and sent to the grid.

– 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

Meanest and Greenest Cars, and Solarizing the Saginaw Bay Region

For Friday, Jan. 29, 2016

1- The greenest and the meanest cars have been named for 2016.

A nonprofit called the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released the list of environmental ratings for vehicles. For the first time, all of the vehicles on the greenest list are plug-in and hybrid vehicles.

At the top is the Mercedes-Benz Smart for Two Electric Drive.

The Chevrolet Spark came in at No. 2.

The Ford Focus Electric came in at No. 10, with the Chevrolet Volt at No. 11.

The meanest list of popular vehicles least-friendly to the environment includes … the Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG in the top spot, the Chevrolet/GMC G2500 Express/Savana at No. 2 and the Ford Transit at No. 7.

chevy-spark-ev-mho

The Chevy Spark EV. Credit: Melissa Hincha-Ownby

 

2 – The first Solarize campaign in Michigan is targeting the Saginaw Bay region.

The Institute for Energy Innovation is launching the Solarize Michigan initiative with a goal of significantly increasing small solar energy deployment in Saginaw, Bay City, Midland, and surrounding communities.

Those involved include local economic development organizations – Saginaw Future, Bay Future and Midland Tomorrow. The initiative is based on a Solarize model first developed in Portland, Oregon.

solarize-michigan-sun

Credit: Wayne Silver

The initiative aims to increase interest in residential and commercial solar energy systems and reduce the cost to homeowners and businesses.

The program is intended to reduce the average cost of residential and small commercial solar installations through bulk purchasing.

As part of a campaign, a request has been issued for proposals from solar installation companies.

Selected installers will be named on Feb. 18.

– 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

 

Net Metering Up, Solar Shingles Out, Beach Cleanups Planned

For Friday, Sept. 4, 2015

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/mi7zliq0lmpopoj/mrgreatlakes2-environment-report-9-4-15.MP3]

1 – A Solar Rally was held last month in Lansing. It was to protest a bill that would eliminate net metering.

Right now, people with rooftop solar panels can use the power they generate and sell the remainder to their electric company. The bill, now in committee, would require all the power to go to the utility.

For now, it turns out that more people are using net metering.

A 2014 annual report from the Michigan Public Service Commission shows a 25 percent increase in net metering compared to 2013.

There was an increase of more than 300 customers (from 1,527 customers to 1,840 customers), and more than 300 installations (from 1,631 installations to 1,947 installations). Some customers have multiple installations.

Michigan two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Electric, host 84 percent of the net metering capacity in the state.

2 – The Dow Chemical Co. will be rolling out Version 2.0 of its Powerhouse Solar System to additional U.S. markets in early 2016.

powerhouse solar shingles installed

Powerhouse Solar Shingles installed on a house in Detroit. Via Houzz.com

The Powerhouse Solar Shingle is made by Dow in Midland, and available in Michigan.

The product combines a conventional asphalt roof with an integrated solar power system. In other words, it looks like a regular roof and performs a lot like a roof full of solar panels, Dow says.

The system includes an inverter that uses collected solar energy to power a home, and monitoring that shows how much energy the system is producing.

3 – Summer is ending, but the Adopt-a-Beach program getting ready for a big cleanup.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes, an environmental group, organizes beach cleanups around Michigan. Many will be taking place on Sept. 19, as part of the International Coastal Cleanup, occurring throughout the month in Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

A local cleanup is planned for Sept. 19 at the Bay City Recreation Area in Bangor Township.

You can find a map of Michigan events, sign up and register at GreatLakesAdopt.org.

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– 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

Saginaw Bay Lighthouse for Sale, Land Conservation Stats and Community Solar

For July 17, 2015

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/w1819xw1mqiz348/mrgreatlakes-7-17-2015-environment-report.MP3]

1- Three Michigan lighthouses are for sale, including the Gravelly Shoal Light Station in Saginaw Bay.

gravelly shoal lighthouse station light saginaw bay

Gravelly Shoal Light Station, Saginaw Bay. Via gsaauctions.gov

The federal government is taking bids on the lighthouses. The new owners would have to maintain the lights. Bidding is open to nonprofit organizations.

The starting bid for the Gravelly Shoal light is $5,000.

The Gravelly Shoal station features a 65-foot tower and is located on the west side of Saginaw Bay, about 5 miles offshore from Au Gres.

It was constructed in 1939 to mark the shoals around Big Charity Island.

2 – Michigan land conservancies have helped protect almost 600,000 acres in the state.

Heart of the Lakes, a statewide nonprofit based in Bay City, says a survey of member land conservancies shows 597,516 acres of natural, scenic and working farms and forest lands have been protected in Michigan.

That’s an increase of about 10,000 acres since last year, based on data from 27 organizations.

By the way, 600,000 acres is about 938 square miles. Bay County is about 631 square miles.

Conserved land supports a variety of conservation purposes, including improved water quality, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation and local foods, according to Heart of the Lakes.

3 – Consumers Energy has a new community solar program, and customers can express interest at the company’s Web site.

solar garden flower

Credit: Nahid V

The company is looking for people interested in subscribing to the Solar Gardens Program.

The subscription program is offered in half-kilowatt increments, called “blocks,” and is limited to a home’s annual electric usage.

Consumers announced the program earlier this year. It’s the first of its kind offered by a regulated electric utility in Michigan.

Consumers says it will determine sites for Solar Gardens projects, and construction will begin after sites are fully subscribed.

Once Solar Gardens are operational, subscribed customers will make a payment with their monthly bill and receive a credit based on the amount of solar energy produced and electric market rates for up to 25 years.

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– 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

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