Lake Huron Fall, Michigan Coastal Initiatives, Energy Plans

For Sept. 8, 2017

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/m5qrqpwxg55vg9x/mr-great-lakes-sept-8-2017-environment-report.mp3]

1 – While fall doesn’t officially begin until Sept. 22, Sept. 1 was the equivalent in terms of weather and water levels.

Michigan State University Extension notes that levels on Lake Huron seem to have peaked in July and August and are now following a typical seasonal decline.

This decline usually continues into October and through December, and then the lake begins a seasonal increase in January and February.

Lakes Huron and Michigan are technically one lake that’s connected by the Straits of Mackinac. The current forecast is that Lake Huron will dip by 2 inches by around Oct 1. That 2-inch decrease amounts to about 1.5 trillion gallons of water (evaporation, precipitation and runoff.)

2 – Michigan is supporting coastal initiatives throughout the state.

Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes will use a half-million dollars in federal grants for 11 projects along the coastline.

The funding supports local governments, nonprofits, and university researchers. Projects will improve beach safety, create public access, and develop tools to protect coastal habitat, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Some funds will continue support for initiatives like the Adopt-a-Beach and Clean Marina programs. Others will explore new ground with aerial photography and geospatial technology.

The projects include a master plan for the village of Sebewaing in Huron County. The plan will be crafted with public input and is intended to help manage natural and recreational Lake Huron resources that include coastal wetlands, a marina, an inland waterway, and a campground.

sebewaing park huron county michigan

Credit: Dale Noel

3 – Clean air and health advocates are pushing for expanded renewable energy and energy efficiency in Michigan.

Groups including the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and the Ecology Center are calling for utility companies to increase investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy as part of Integrated Resource Plans (IRP).

Under a new energy law that took effect in April, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy must file Integrated Resource Plans that lay out long-term plans for energy efficiency and demand response, and for building power plants and other forms of electricity generation.

The Michigan Public Service Commission is holding public comment sessions throughout the state on these plans.

One was held held this week in Livonia. Others are planned for Grand Rapids and Marquette.

Comments on the plans also are being taken online until Oct. 6 at michigan.gov/lara.

– 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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Energy Laws, Duck and Bird Advice, Power Plant Expansion

For Friday, April 7, 2017

 

1 – There are new energy laws coming to Michigan and opportunities for public involvement.

A web page from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on the laws, which take effect on April 20.

The new laws include updates relating to utility rate cases, electric choice, energy waste reduction and renewable energy. Electric providers will be required to produce 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021.

You can sign up to receive email updates on topics of interest. You can find more information at michigan.gov/energylegislation.

— Via GLREA

2 – If you find a duck nesting on your property this spring, leave it alone.

Goslings are a common sight in Michigan in the spring

Goslings. Credit: MDNR

Michigan wildlife experts say ducks nests, particularly mallard nests, seem to appear just about everywhere in the spring. Female mallards often build nests in landscaping, gardens or other locations.

While finding a duck’s nest in an unexpected location may be a surprise, there is no need for concern. Leave the duck alone and try to keep dogs, cats and children away from the nest.

If the mother duck is successful and her eggs hatch, she will lead her ducklings to the nearest body of water.

Don’t worry if you do not live near water, the mother duck knows where to take her ducklings to find it.

If a bird builds a nest on your property, it’s common to find baby birds on the ground after they attempt to fly. Don’t touch them. Their parents will continue to take care of them, even when they are on the ground.

Touching a baby bird will not cause adults to abandon it. But if you move a baby bird, the parents may be unable to find and care for it. It is better to leave the baby bird alone to be raised by its parents.

3 – A Midland power plant plans a $500 million expansion.

midland cogeneration venture plant expansion artist rendering

Artist’s rendering. Credit: MCV

According to the Midland Daily News, the Midland Cogeneration Venture plans to spend the money to add two new gas turbines and a steam turbine at its 1,200-acre site.

Officials estimate 700 people will be employed during the two and a half years of construction, and 20 long-term jobs will be added at the site. The upgrades will boost electrical capacity by at least 40 percent.

Midland Cogeneration Venture is the largest plant of its kind in the United States. It uses natural gas to produce electricity and process steam for customers including nearby chemical production companies.

Construction on the expansion is to begin once the plant secures a power purchaser, which is expected to take six to 12 months.

Officials say the expansion is driven by the need for more energy following the shuttering of older power plants.

– 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

 

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

Lake Guardian Survey, Phragmites Treatment, Electric Vehicles

For Friday, Aug. 5, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/u9g1dlgyd6xomj2/mr-great-lakes-environment-report-8-5-16.mp3]

1 – Consumers Energy wants to install electric vehicle charging stations across the state.

The Michigan utility hopes to install more than 800 charging stations as part of a $15 million statewide electric vehicle infrastructure program.

The request is under consideration by the Michigan Public Service Commission as part of a broader rate increase.

The utility is looking to install 60 direct current fast-charge stations and 750 alternating current stations across the state, according to Midwest Energy News.

The fast-charging stations would be located along highways and allow drivers to recharge up to 80 percent of their battery in about 20 minutes.

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An example of an electric vehicle charging station in Virginia. Credit: alexanderromero

2 – The public is invited to a Phragmites Treatment Information Meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Phragmites is a perennial wetland grass. An invasive variety of the plant can grow up to 15 feet tall and degrade wetlands and coastal areas by crowding out native plants and animals.

The meeting is from 6 to 8 p.m. at Akron Township Hall in Unionville. It’s intended to help private landowners through the phragmites treatment process.

Those who attend can find out about how to control phragmites, along with the permits that are required and contractors who are available to do the work.

There is no cost for the meeting.

More information is available from the Tuscola County Economic Development Corp.

3 – This month, the Lake Guardian begins its summer survey of the five Great Lakes.

The Lake Guardian is a research vessel operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Chicago.

The ship is used to gather environmental data to gauge the health of the lakes. Its crew samples water, air, sediments and aquatic organisms like plankton.

Month-long surveys are done each year in the spring and summer.

You can track the ship’s location during this summer’s survey at lakeguardian.org.

The vessel started its survey on Lake Michigan and was near Milwaukee on Thursday.

– 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

 

 

 

 

Making Your Own Power and Watching the Perseid Meteor Shower

For Aug. 8, 2014

 

1More people are generating their own power in Michigan.

The latest annual net metering and solar pilot program report from the Michigan Public Service Commission shows an 18 percent increase in the program’s size compared to 2012.

Under a net metering program, customers receive a credit when they produce electric energy in excess of their needs.

Since 2008, net metering has increased by almost 1,500 customers.

In 2013, the number of net metering customers increased by almost 200, going from 1,330 to 1,527.

Solar was the most popular, with 221 customer installations totaling 1,674 kilowatts in 2013. Some customers have multiple installations.

The state’s two largest utilities — Consumers Energy and DTE Electric — host 83 percent of the total net metering program capacity in Michigan, according to the PSC.

 

2 – The night sky is worth watching.

perseid meteor shower michigan

Credit: Dominic Alves.

One of the biggest and most-visible astronomical events of the year is happening this month.

It’s the Perseid meteor shower.

Some state parks in Michigan are staying open late and hosting “Meteors and S’Mores” events from Aug. 9-16 in honor of this natural light show.

Many of the events include astronomy presentations — along with chocolate, marshmellows and graham crackers.

Parks that are hosting meteor shower gatherings include the Rifle River Recreation Area in Ogemaw County, at 10 p.m. on Aug. 12; and North Higgins Lake State Park in Crawford County, at 9 p.m. on Aug. 12.

On Saturday, Aug. 16, Hartwick Pines State Park in Crawford County will host an event at 8 p.m.

More information is available online at michigan.gov/GoGetOutdoors.

 

3Speaking of the outdoors, the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is putting kids in nature.

Kids in Nature events are planned for the Discovery Preserve at Euclid Park in coming months.

All the events are at the park in Bay City, and open to the public. But you’re asked to register in advance at sblc-mi.org.

There’s a butterfly walk on Tuesday, Aug. 19, from 2-4 p.m.

On Sept. 16, there’s a twilight hike from 6-8 p.m.

On Nov. 16, you can bring the kids to look for Mammal Tracks from 2-4 p.m.

The tours, again, will be at the Discovery Preserve at Euclid Park, formerly known as Euclid Linear Park, at 1701 S. Euclid Avenue in Bay City.

 

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

A Tally of Renewable Energy in Michigan, and Beach Trash in the Great Lakes

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College public radio Q-90.1 FM.

The Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, broadcast:

1 – More than $1.8 billion has been invested since Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard was signed into law in 2008.

toxic butts beaches cigarette butts trash

Photo by ToxicButts

 

The figures come from a third annual report (pdf) by the Michigan Public Service Commission on a public act that established a standard of 10 percent renewables by 2015.

For 2011, Michigan’s estimated renewable energy percentage was 4.4 percent, up from 3.6 percent in 2010.

For 2012, renewables are expected to have reached 4.7 percent, according to the Commission. During 2012, more renewable energy came online in Michigan that ever before, officials say.

Michigan added 815 megawatts of new wind capacity last year, and now has a total of 978 megawatts from 14 operating wind farms, located in spots including Michigan’s Thumb.

The report says that compared to building a new, conventional coal-fired facility, most renewable energy contracts have been significantly lower in price. The cost of renewable energy contracts also has come in below previous estimates.

Voters in November rejected a ballot proposal to raise Michigan’s renewable standard.

Gov. Rick Snyder has planned public meetings across the state this year to discuss Michigan’s energy future.  One is planned for Delta College’s Lecture Theater from 1-5 p.m. on March. 4.

An agenda for that Delta meeting includes presentations by Dow, Clean Water Action, and Consumers Energy, and time for public comment.

2 – The totals are in from the Adopt-a-Beach program.

In 2012, hundreds of teams and thousands of volunteers spread out on the five Great Lakes to clean up litter and conduct environmental monitoring as part of the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ program.

Those teams included one from Saginaw Valley State University. That team worked on the public beach at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County’s Bangor Township.

By the numbers, 327 coastal areas were visited in 2012.

A total of 42,351 pounds of trash was removed by 12,618 volunteers on 372 Adopt-a-Beach teams.

Litter removed from beaches in 2012 was made up mostly of food-related items, at 43 percent.

Cigarette filters came in second, at 34 percent. Cigar tips made up 6 percent. Plastic bags made up 5 percent.

This year’s Adopt-a-Beach events kick off in the spring.

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