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Panel recommends BWL rely more on renewables in shift from coal

May 10, 2016

Lansing utility officials are weighing a plan that could greatly increase their reliance on alternative energy.

The Lansing Board of Water & Light will soon have to shut down three coal-fired power plants. The plant produce about 80% of the utility’s electricity. 

A panel is recommending BWL replace the electricity from three soon-to-close coal plants with power from wind, solar and natural gas.

“We created what we believe is a balanced plan that includes energy efficiency, clean energy and new, cleaner natural gas,” says Steve Tramseth, the head of the advisory committee. 

Under the proposal, up to 40% of BWL’s electricity could come from renewables by 2030. 

David Price is the BWL board chairman. He says they will have to review their options.

“For us as a board, those decisions will be made over the next year,” says Price.

The proposal is not cheap. The advisory panel pegs the cost at more than $1 billion.  A secondary proposal to rely more on natural gas would cost slightly less.  

But environmentalists complain the plan relies too much on natural gas and does not push energy efficiency.

Anne Woiwode is the conservation chair with the Sierra Club. 

“While they are talking about increasing renewables,” says Woiwode, “they are not doing the full job they can do to make the renewables sufficient.”