Governor 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. Continue reading →
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.”
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
The campaign to ban the drilling process known as “fracking” plans to launch a petition drive next month. This will be the third time the anti-fracking campaign has tried to get lawmakers or voters to adopt a ban. Continue reading →
The law that allows some Michigan school districts, businesses, and ratepayers to buy electricity from a competitor to their regional utility was the central issue in a state House hearing. It was part of the Legislature’s preparations to decide how to overhaul Michigan’s energy policies. Continue reading →