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.

-30-

– 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

Research Vessels, Energy Appraisal and Bad Axe Renewables

For Friday, June 3, 2016 –

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/md2k740gy9g9fxe/6-3-16-mr-great-lakes-fish-energy-badaxe.mp3]

1 – Four state fisheries research vessels are back on the water, beginning annual surveys of Great Lakes fish populations.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says surveys conducted by the vessels are designed to examine and collect information on all aspects of the state’s Great Lakes fish community.

The vessels work throughout the Great Lakes on a wide variety of assessments and evaluations. Operations will continue into November.

channelcat

R/V Channel Cat. Via MDNR

On Lake Huron, the work is conducted by the Research Vessel Tanner  Chinook. The vessel focuses work on specific assessments of lake trout and walleye populations, as well as broader assessments in Saginaw Bay and the St. Marys River that evaluate fish community changes.

The Saginaw Bay evaluations are conducted jointly with the Research Vessel Channel Cat, which is based in Lake St. Clair at the Fisheries Research Station in Harrison Township.

 

2- Michigan consumers are benefiting from an abundant production and supply of natural gas, crude oil and petroleum products.

This is resulting in decreased prices across the board, according to a new state energy appraisal.

This summer, residents should enjoy dramatically lower prices at the pump.

1144510574_08449b0daf_z

Credit: Joe Ross

Gas prices are about 13 percent lower than last year, officials say, along with the price of natural gas.

Officials say successful energy waste reduction efforts are noticeable in electricity demand.

Baseline usage is expected to decrease by 0.9 percent, despite a rise in economic activity and slightly increased usage by the industrial sector.

The state energy appraisal comes from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

 

3 – An old building Bad Axe has been renewed.

The Huron Renewable Energy Center was opened recently by DTE Energy, bringing 25 jobs to the Thumb.

The facility was vacant for two years and is a former Normans Warehouse and the site of the M-53 Drive-In Theater, which opened in 1952.

The newly-renovated center includes offices, garage facilities, warehousing and a maintenance shop area.

The facility also has an unfinished 3,000 square-foot space.

DTE plans to develop the space to serve as an area for renewable energy education and the hosting wind park tours, meetings and other community activities.

Plans are expected to be finalized this year, with completion of the space in 2017.

– 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

Wind Energy Payments, Kirtland’s Ham Radio and Salmon in the Classroom

For Friday, May 6, 2016

1 – Wind energy development is providing millions of dollars to rural landowners in the form of land lease payments.

red-barn-wind-rural-landowner-awea.JPG

Credit: AWEA

According to Midwest Energy News, payments to Michigan landowners totaled $4.6 million in 2014.

Tax bases in Huron County increased by 34 percent between 2011 and 2015, or more than $559 million. In Tuscola County, tax bases increased by 26 percent, or more than $364 million.

The money provides revenue to help pay for county operating expenses, schools, roads, libraries, and other services.

Nationwide, the American Wind Energy Association reports that wind farms pay $222 million a year to rural landowners, with $70.7 million of that across 12 Midwest states.  

Some local officials in Michigan’s Thumb have complained about over-saturation and others have recently approved moratoriums on new wind development.

Clean energy advocates, meanwhile, fear wind development may slow considerably without an expanded renewable portfolio standard, which leveled off at the end of 2015.

2 – The 2016 Kirtland’s Warbler Festival is going worldwide.

This year’s festival is being held in Roscommon on Saturday, June 4.

As part of the event, ham radio operators will be hosting a Special Event Radio Station on the grounds of the festival.

2458625308_7489fd0b2b_z

An example of a Special Event Station. Credit: Dan

According to Huron Pines in Gaylord, a station call sign has been assigned to the event through the American Radio Relay League, amateur radio’s national organization.

The ham radio operators in Roscommon plan to make two-way contacts in the United States and worldwide to raise awareness of the festival and recovery efforts related to the Kirtland’s Warbler.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler nests in just a few counties in Michigan’s northern lower and upper peninsulas, along with Wisconsin and Ontario.

3 – Baby salmon are swimming in Midland, thanks to the efforts of a local elementary school.

12435393153_d57b677376_z

Credit: USFWS

Fourth graders from Saint Brigid School released hand-raised chinook salmon at the end of April from the Tridge in Midland, according to Little Forks Conservancy.

The release was the culmination of a Department of Natural Resources Salmon in the Classroom Program.

A local chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsored the equipment and other resources for the effort.

Salmon in the Classroom is a year-long natural resources education program in which teachers and students receive fertilized salmon eggs from a state fish hatchery in the fall, hatch them out, feed and raise the fry through spring, and then release the young salmon into a local river.

Participation in the program has grown annually for more than 10 years, and now boasts more than 200 schools that will raise salmon next year.

You can find out more at Michigan.gov/SIC.

 

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

$10 Million for Saginaw Bay, and the (Low) Cost of Wind Power

For Friday, Jan. 16, 2015

1 – A total of $10 million in federal funding is coming to Saginaw Bay.

saginaw bay

Credit: Matt Stehouwer

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Conservation Partnership has been selected to receive the money under a new program created by the 2014 Farm Bill.

The initiative will help farmers improve the water quality and wildlife habitat in the Saginaw Bay watershed, which has problems with phosphorus and nutrient sediment runoff.

The Michigan Agri-Business Association and Nature Conservancy will lead 35 local partners to restore acres of wetlands, reduce excessive sediments and nutrients in the watershed, and monitor long-term trends in the fish population and habitat, according to U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

The funding is part of $40 million going to conservation projects across Michigan and the Great Lakes region. The others are in western Lake Erie and the St. Joseph River.

Farm runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms, beach closings and unsafe drinking water.

 

2Leaders will discuss the future of wind power in Michigan next week.

The American Wind Energy Association is holding its State Wind Energy Forum in East Lansing on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Business, community and political leaders will attend, including representatives from Consumers Energy and Huron County.

The forum will take place at Michigan State University.

The agenda includes a panel discussion on proposed federal rules for reducing carbon pollution at existing coal-fired power plants.

An upcoming federal Wind Vision report also will be discussed. The report says American wind power is on track to double by 2020 and double again by 2030.

Michigan has 1,350 megawatts of installed wind capacity, enough to power more than 230,000 homes.

The American Wind Energy Association says wind power has the potential to meet 163 percent of the state’s current electricity needs.

 

3Can you spare $2.60 a month?

That’s how much it would cost the average household to expand Michigan’s renewable energy portfolio standard to 25 percent over the next 10 years.

A report from the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute says the price tag could even be cut in half if key federal tax credits are extended.

Michigan utilities are on pace to meet a 10 percent goal for renewable energy generation by the end of this year.

The report follows a failed 2012 ballot initiative to expand the state’s standard to 25 percent by 2025. A utility-backed group claimed a higher standard would be too expensive.

Michigan lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder are expected to propose policy changes this year, since the current 10 percent standard is due to expire.

– via Midwest Energy News

 

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

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.

%d bloggers like this: