Category Archives: Energy

The state is creating rules for utilities to protect against cyberattacks

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The Michigan Public Service Commission says utilities are seeing attacks daily, from domestic and international sources. Now the state is creating rules to protect Michigan’s utilities from cyber-attacks.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light announced this month they paid a ransom of 25-thousand dollars to unlock their own communication system from a cyber-attack that occured in April. Continue reading

Enbridge responds to delay for Line 5 supports

Mackinac-01Enbridge Energy is reacting today to a state decision that delays company plans to install new supports on its Line 5 pipeline.

In June, Enbridge Energy, which owns Line 5, reported four spots that required additional support because of erosion.

The Department of Environmental Quality approved supports for those four spots, but delayed action on 18 others that Enbridge requested.

Environmental groups said they’re hopeful this means the government is getting serious about a line shutdown.

But Michael Barnes, a spokesperson for Enbridge, said that’s not how he sees it.

“We think that we’re all working towards the same thing and that’s to protect the straits and keep energy flowing into Michigan.”

Officials with the DEQ said they will delay a decision on the 18 additional supports until two studies on the risks of the pipeline and alternative ways for transporting the oil are completed. Results of those studies are expected early next year.

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

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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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