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

 

Rejecting More Wind, Bagging More Trash, Creating Less Waste

For May 19, 2017

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1 – Voters in several townships and three counties in Michigan’s Thumb have rejected plans for wind projects and zoning changes.

Developers tell Midwest Energy News they are now regrouping, and are uncertain of whether they will pursue future projects in the three-county region of Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola. The region has the most concentrated amount of wind turbines in the state.

Two projects proposed by DTE Energy and NextEra Energy and approved by Huron County officials, were reversed through petition drives and referendum votes.

DTE’s completion of a Filion Wind Park was rejected in four townships. NextEra’s 150-megawatt Huron Wind Energy Center was rejected in two townships.

Local officials say the outcome is due to a saturation of the market in the Thumb, and growing mistrust with wind development companies stemming from ongoing disputes over tax payments.

2 – Memorial Day is the unofficial start of beach season in Michigan. And volunteers with the Adopt-a-Beach program will be out on the shorelines again this year.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes, which organizes the program, reports that more than 15,000 people participated in almost 1,400 cleanups last year. They recorded every piece of litter they picked up, which totaled more than 40,000 pounds.

The litter database is used identify problem areas and develop solutions to improve beach health.

The majority of trash picked up – 87 percent – was plastic. That included smoking-related litter and food-related litter, meaning it originated from human activity.

To find a cleanup near you, visit GreatLakesAdopt.org. A cleanup is planned for August at the Bay City state park beach in Bangor Township.

3 – A Great Lakes Bay Zero Waste Consortium will look at waste reduction strategies.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network is partnering with Duro-Last Inc. and others to launch the effort.

The goal is to bring together area manufacturers, businesses, and institutions interested in implementing waste reduction strategies.

Participants say taking a systematic look at waste generated by businesses can help identify opportunities to cut costs through waste reduction.

A free informational meeting for anyone interested in getting involved is planned for Wednesday, May 24, from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Duro-Last headquarters on West Morley Drive in Saginaw.

– 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 –

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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.

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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.

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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

Free Fishing, Great Lakes Protection, and No More Renewable Energy Surcharges

For Friday, June 12, 2015

1 – This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan.

That’s Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14.

All fishing license fees will be waived for the two days. Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing for all species on inland and Great Lakes’ waters.

Research shows that young people today do not have access to fishing opportunities that were enjoyed by previous generations. Reasons include living in urban or suburban areas, competition for time by an ever-increasing schedule of special activities, and too little time for unstructured leisure.

Events are being held around the state. In Bay County, there’s a Free Fishing Festival at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bangor Township. That includes a Family Fishing Derby, with rods and bait provided and trophies for the largest of each species of fish caught. There also will be a “Fishing Fairway,” where booths will be set up to teach and demonstrate skills, safety and knowledge which can be helpful while fishing Michigan’s waters.

Michigan offers some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world, according to the Department of Natural Resources, with more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, more than 11,000 inland lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

2 – The Great Lakes Protection Fund is looking for projects.

The aim is for projects that create ecological improvements on a regional scale.

The cutoff date for preproposals is Aug. 3, and decisions are expected in December.

Themes being explored include

  • Prototypes of Insurance, Assurance and Financial Products for the Ecosystem
  • Performance-Based Green Infrastructure Competition
  • Smarter Water – Healthier Lakes

The Great Lakes Protection Fund is a private, nonprofit corporation formed in 1989 by the governors of the Great Lakes states. To date, the Fund has awarded more than $72 million to support 259 projects.

To find out more, visit glpf.org.

3 – Renewable energy is paying off.

DTE Electric, Michigan’s largest electric utility, recently filed a rate change request to eliminate renewable energy surcharges from customer bills.

The surcharge will be removed beginning in January 2016, reducing electric rates by $15 million a year.

Consumer’s Energy, the second-largest investor-owned utility in Michigan, has already eliminated renewable surcharges on consumer bills.

The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, a trade association, says the elimination of the surcharges is additional proof of the rapid decline in costs associated with renewable energy in the state.

It also demonstrates the success of a 2008 renewable energy law that has spurred more than $3 billion in economic activity tied to renewable energy projects in Michigan.

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

Echo Wind Park Spins, WIN Grants Available, and Septic Tips

For Oct. 3, 2014

 

1 – A new wind park is spinning in Huron County.

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Echo Wind Park construction. Credit: DTE.

DTE Energy says its Echo Wind Park has reached commercial operation. There are 70 turbines in the park, located in Oliver and Chandler townships in Michigan’s Thumb.

The Echo Wind Park adds 112 megawatts to DTE Energy’s renewable energy portfolio, or enough to power more than 50,000 homes.

The wind park is sited on nearly 16,000 acres. It’s the fourth to be owned and operated by DTE Energy.

The project is the first to tie into a new 345,000-volt transmission system built to handle all the renewable energy flowing onto the electric grid in the Thumb.

The wind park will be operated and maintained by a team of seven employees. As many as 170 workers were on site during peak construction activity.

With the commissioning of the Echo Wind Park, DTE’s renewable energy portfolio is at 9.6 percent. Under state law, Michigan utilities have to meet a 10 percent standard by 2015.

– via GLREA

 

2The leaves are falling, and fall funding is available from Saginaw Bay WIN.

Saginaw Bay WIN, which stands for Watershed Initiative Network, is funded by area foundations. It’s offering Fall Community Action Mini Grants.

They’re available to organizations working to make improvements in their neighborhoods, communities, and watersheds within the framework of “sustainability.” That is, projects that have economic, environmental and community impacts.

WIN will award matching grants of up to $1,000 to successful applicants whose projects show creativity and address an important and demonstrated need.

Past grants have gone to environmental education initiatives, public access projects, watershed signage, tree plantings, and community gardens.

Eligible organizations include nonprofit groups, local governments and educational institutions. Organizations can apply online at SaginawBayWIN.org. The deadline is Oct. 17.

 

3Faulty septic systems can pollute local waterways and contribute to harmful algal blooms.

commode toilet septic

Don’t overload the commode. Credit: Glenn Beltz.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging homeowners to maintain their septic systems as part of a public information campaign.

Nearly 25 percent of all American households use septic systems to treat their wastewater. Faulty septic systems have been blamed for beach closures in Bay County and other parts of Michigan.

Data collected by states attribute septic systems and other onsite wastewater treatment methods to water quality impairments in almost 23,000 miles of rivers and streams; about 200,000 acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds; and more than 72,000 acres of wetlands, according to EPA.

EPA tips for septic system maintenance include:

  • Protect It and Inspect It
  • Think at the Sink, and
  • Don’t Overload the Commode.

The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years.

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

Mich Enviro Report: Earth Day Beach Cleanups, a Festival & Thumb Wind Farms

As heard on Delta College public radio Q-90.1 FM, Friday Edition, April 22, 2011:

Junk from a Grand Haven beach cleanup in 2010. Via the Alliance for the Great Lakes

1.

Today is Earth Day (April 22), and beaches around Michigan are being cleaned up by volunteers.

The Adopt-a-Beach program is in its ninth season, and runs through May 4. This year, volunteers will target spots around the Great Lakes that have seen beach closings or been designated as federal Areas of Concern because of past pollution.

That includes the public beach at the Bay City State Recreation Area, where a cleanup is planned for April 23. It’s the first Adopt-a-Beach cleanup at the state park in recent memory.

Other cleanups are planned throughout Michigan, including in Allegan, Berrien, Muskegon, Ottawa, Van Buren and Wayne Counties.

Adopt-a-Beach is organized by the Alliance for the Great Lakes. During the events, volunteers clear trash and sample water quality. Additional work also is being done this year with funding from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Last year, Adopt-a-Beach volunteers removed more than 31,000 pounds of trash from Great Lakes shorelines.

2.

More wind farms are coming to Michigan’s Thumb.

DTE Energy plans to build its first three wind farms in Huron and Sanilac counties, to be completed in 2012.

The development is part of efforts to expand the generation of renewable energy in Michigan. Utilities in the state are working to meet at 10 percent by 2015 standard.

The three DTE wind projects will generate about 110 megawatts, according to company officials.

The estimated cost of the project is $225 million. About 50 turbines are to be installed along 15,000 acres in the two counties. The project is expected to create more than 500 construction jobs.

DTE still needs to select a turbine manufacturer, a construction company, and secure permits for the three wind farms.

But the company says it hopes to begin construction next year.

3.

The big Earth Day celebration is planned for Saturday, April 30, in Huron County.

School officials are planning for a seventh annual Embracing Our Earth event, which typically attracts thousands of visitors.

This year’s festival is to take place at Bad Axe Junior High School, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Attractions this year include a Marking Art from the Earth display by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, a rainforest and alligator display, and pedal powered cookies.

The Detroit Science Center also will put on a  “Green Machine” stage show, and there will be live music, face painting and a kayak tank.

Wind farm tours also will be offered, along with mechanical surfboard rides, Segway demonstrations, and more.

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