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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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