Category Archives: Energy

Snyder backs energy plan headed to state House floor

Snyder_courtesy_4Governor Rick Snyder has thrown his support behind an energy plan that could be voted on soon by the state House.

The plan would make it harder for customers to move between the utilities and alternative suppliers of electricity. The governor says that would help utilities plan new construction as 19 coal-fired plants are about to shut down.
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Winter is fast approaching and officials on Mackinac Island say they’re having trouble finding an electrician to hire to keep the power on

file3641283618643The island is looking is looking for someone to fill a journeyman lineman position. That’s the person who operates, maintains and installs electric distribution equipment.
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Oil spill simulation under the Straits

Straits of Mackinac.  Courtesy of Colleen Brown.

Straits of Mackinac. Courtesy of Colleen Brown.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will simulate a spill on Enbridge’s oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac this Thursday (9/24).
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Committee OKs selection of former Consumers lobbyist to utility regulation panel


The state Senate is one step closer to confirming Gov. Rick Snyder’s appointment of a former Consumers Energy lobbyist to a panel that regulates utilities.

The state Senate Energy and Technology Committee signed off on the appointment of Norm Saari to the Michigan Public Service Commission during an advice and consent hearing on Thursday. The Senate Government Operations Committee and the full Senate are expected to follow suit.

Saari told the legislative panel that he no longer has any financial connection to Consumers.

“I have no pension from Consumers Energy. I have no retiree healthcare from Consumers Energy. I have no life insurance from Consumers Energy. I don’t get a senior citizen discount on my energy bills and I pay for my light bulbs,” he said.

“I have no financial interest in any of the organizations that I will be part of regulating.”

But critics of the appointment say his background still creates a conflict of interest. They say it should disqualify him from the job.

Saari most recently served as chief of staff to state House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) and former speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall).

Because of his former role, lawmakers on the panel quizzed Saari on what role – if any – he played in a recent scandal. Some Democrats charge that he may have ignored evidence that state Rep. Todd Courser (R-Lapeer) used state resources to cover up his affair with state Rep. Cindy Gamrat (R-Plainwell).

Saari told reporters that he believes he addressed the situation appropriately. But he declined to comment further on the scandal in front of the Senate panel.

“I do have a meeting scheduled next week with the House Business Office as part of their investigation,” he said. “And I feel an obligation to communicate through the investigation before I make any other public comments.”

Stabenow attempts to halt Lake Huron nuclear dump with century old treaty

StabenowSenator Debbie Stabenow is once again attempting to stop construction of Ontario Power Generation’s proposed nuclear dump on the shores of Lake Huron.

She introduced the ‘Stop Nuclear Waste by our Lakes Act’. It invokes a century old treaty between the U.S and Canada on Great Lakes issues. Continue reading

Enbridge sponsors water monitoring above aging pipeline in Mackinac Straits

webHardisty Terminal

Enbridge Energy is sponsoring new efforts to monitor waters above its aging pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge is working with the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) out of Michigan Technical University to build and operate a buoy to measure currents in real time. That information will be made available for anyone to view online. Continue reading

Power nearly restored across northern Michigan

Aerial view of  downed trees at Skegernog Point.  Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Aerial view of downed trees at Skegernog point. Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard.

Roughly 3,000 northern Michigan residents are still without power Thursday afternoon following Sunday’s severe weather event.

This is down from over 150,000 who initially lost power during the storm.
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Preparing for Clean Power Plan state legislators tour solar facility

One of J. Ranck's solar panels.

One of J. Ranck’s solar panels.

State legislators met August 5th at the home of one of Michigan’s largest solar arrays following this week’s Clean Power Plan proposed by President Obama.
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Snyder administration outlines 30-year water plan

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration has released a first draft of a 30-year strategy for protecting and improving the state’s water resources.

The plan says there are environmental and economic benefits to protecting and improving lakes, rivers, and streams. The plan includes connecting waterways to promote tourism. Also, fixing outdated sewer and drinking water systems. Continue reading

Democratic lawmakers eye bill to keep water flowing to Highland Park

bottled water

A group of state House Democrats hopes to prevent the state’s largest water utility from ending service to one of the cities it serves. Continue reading

Michigan’s thumb gets rural energy funding boost

An 80 year old program that’s dedicated to funding rural energy cooperatives is sending 25 million dollars to Michigan’s Thumb.

Every year the USDA parcels out loans to energy cooperatives in order to strengthen rural infrastructure.

This year the USDA is giving out roughly $100 million. A quarter of that money is going to the Thumb Electric Cooperative of Michigan.

The Coop’s General Manager Dallas Braun says the money will help them implement a new monitoring system.

“Currently our members read their own meters every month, submit a reading to us and then we bill them based on the reading. So the AMI system or the Smart Grid system will allow us to become more efficient and save a lot of money.”

Braun says one of the big advantages of a coop is that the money they save goes back to their members.

Nuclear dump assessment results made public

Ontario Power Generation’s, or OPG’s, proposed nuclear dump has been declared safe enough to construct by a Canadian Joint Review Panel of scientists.

The panel submitted over 400 pages of analysis to the Minister. She now has 4 months to decide whether or not to grant OPG a permit to construct.

The panel recommended numerous plans of action that OPG will need to account for if they want to retain their accepted status.

It’s important to remember OPG is only requesting a permit to build the facility.

They will need to go through another assessment to earn a permit to use it.

Delta College uses ice to store energy and save money

Winter’s icy grip may have melted, but at one mid Michigan college, the ice is just starting to take hold on campus.

Delta College, in Bay County, uses a thermal energy storage system to keep campus cool.

Delta buys electricity at night and on weekends when power is cheaper. It stores the energy in the form of 8-foot by 8-foot ice blocks. Then during the day when prices are higher, the melting ice cools campus buildings. Continue reading

Canadian joint review panel releases recomendations

After two years of hearings and arguments, a recommendation was released Wednesday, May 6th, on building a nuclear waste dump near Lake Huron.

A Canadian Panel was tasked with assessing the proposal for a nuclear dump which would be run by Ontario Power Generation – or OPG.

The Canadian Minister of the Environment will review the panel’s recommendations and issue a decision on whether or not to allow a nuclear dump within the Lake Huron watershed.

We’ll have a more detailed description of the panel’s recommendations once the documents are made public.

Court: Utility has to justify smart meter fee


The Michigan Court of Appeals says a state utility-regulating board should call in a power company to justify a fee it charges customers who refuse to use high-tech smart meters. Continue reading