Category Archives: Energy

Push for wind farms along Great Lakes sparks controversy

wind_farm_story_pic_mediumOn the Atwater Farm, a commercial dairy farm near Lake Ontario, the sound of diesel trucks thunders through the air as they bring in loads of harvested corn for cow feed.

Susan Atwater and her husband Ben are the sixth generation to run this farm. It’s been around since the mid-1800s and is one of the oldest in New York State.

It hasn’t been easy making it in the dairy business. With the summer drought, this year been has been a particular challenge. Now, the Atwaters are turning to the wind for financial help.

“I have all these tractors and tractor trailers to harvest the corn, our monthly cost of diesel is well into the six digits on a harvest season,”Susan Atwater said. “If I can help that with a supplement from a consistent energy producing wind turbine, it’s going to be huge for our business.”

They’re one of several local land owners who signed leases with Apex Clean Energy. The Virginia-based company plans to install 71 wind turbines, generating enough energy to power 53,000 homes.

Apex has nearly a dozen projects planned for communities in the Great Lakes region, including four in Ohio, one in Michigan and four in New York.

This particular project, which stretches 12 miles through the towns of Somerset and Yates, has been met with both fierce support and intense opposition.

“The shores of Lake Ontario is not the place for industrial wind energy period,” said Town Supervisor Dan Engert.

He’s frustrated, and says the town’s right to site the project has been stripped away by state law.

“How would you feel if you had no say? If the state came in and told you,” he said. “They’re not just going to put up a building. We’re not going to just have something that impacts one part of your town or your city we’re going to completely litter your entire town from one end to the other with these industrialized structures.

“How would you feel?”

Article 10 of the Power NY Act gives the task of siting the project to a board. It’s staffed with five state representatives and two community members.

The state says leaving siting decisions up to the board offers a streamlined process for permitting power plants greater than 25 megawatts. The state plans to expand its infrastructure — to generate 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

The Great Lakes is a prime area for harvesting wind energy and developers are taking advantage of that. A U.S. Geological Survey map shows more than 500 wind turbines forming clusters along the Great Lakes Watershed.

Apex representative Dan Fitzgerald says the fresh water source is an open resource for energy.

“The lake area provides more open resource for us,” he said, adding that “there’s no back stop there’s no hills behind it.”

“There’s almost a drawing effect of the lake that actually accelerates the wind and gives us a better wind resource. So by locating a wind project near the better wind areas, which in this case are certain portions near Lake Ontario, we’ll have a more productive project.”

Apex has yet to submit an application for the Lake Ontario project. Fitzgerald says they hope to do so before the end of the year. The project’s expected completion date 2019.

The state is asking for a study on the reliability of the state’s electric grid

electricity_pylon

This week, the state asked for an electric grid reliability study to test the generating capacity and reserve capacity in Michigan.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, or MISO would conduct the study. They are the electric transmission operator for much of the state.

Judy Palnau is with the Michigan Agency for Energy. Continue reading

State asking for public comments on the pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac

Mackinac Bridge with swans swimming in the straits, June 2006. MDOT

Mackinac Bridge with swans swimming in the straits, June 2006. MDOT

The state has opened a public comment period on the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

Earlier this month, the company was ordered to install more supports under the pipeline. Some of the current supports are farther apart than the 75-feet, required by Michigan law. Continue reading

Enbridge Energy reaches settlement over Kalamazoo River oil spill

f369230151edf0a4e0101cbd111732a1It was announced this week the company behind the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, Enbridge Energy, will pay 177 million dollars for the spill.

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Indigenous people feel their concerns about pipelines fall on deaf ears

TranscanadaA Canadian oil company is suing the American government for denying the Keystone XL pipeline.

Aldo Seoane is the Co-founder of the Wicaheli League, and an advocate for indigenous peoples rights.

Seoane said while the legal issues are being handled in court, there is a voice going unheard.
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Michigan looks to save energy as coal power plants shut down 

downloadThe state is asking for public comment on how to get more households on power saving plans with their electric company.

Those plans are called Demand Response Programs.
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Oil company skips environmental assessment of century old pipelines

Plains PipelineTwo 98 year old oil pipelines under the St. Clair river may see an increased workload in the near future.

Plains All American Pipelines is attempting to get permission from the government to push crude oil through the lines.
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National Wildlife Federation files intent to sue

mackinac-03On Monday the National Wildlife Federation filed an intent to sue the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which oversees pipeline safety.

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