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DTE's St. Clair Power Plant in East China, Michigan.
user cgord / wikimedia commons

It makes sense that the more we run our air conditioners during the heat of the summer, the more pollution we put into the air. But now scientists have figured out exactly how much more.

David Abel is the lead author of a study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, and a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

State energy providers aim to restore power by Sunday

Mar 9, 2017
LadyDragonFlyCC / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan's wind-generated power woes are not over yet. 

Major energy providers Consumer's Energy and DTE Energy announced Thursday that more than 800,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity, and many in the dark about when they can expect to get their power back. 

Consumer's Energy spokesperson Terry DeDoes says crews have been working tirelessly throughout the week to restore power to the over 320,000 customers facing interruptions, routinely logging 16 hour days. He says while there has been progress, full power is still a few days away.

University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan energy is getting greener. 

A state report released Wednesday says all Michigan energy providers met or exceeded a government requirement to supply 10% of energy from renewable sources in 2015. 

The Michigan Public Service Commission wrote the report based on a 2008 law. That law also called for a 12.5% standard by 2019 and a 15% standard by 2021. 

The majority of the energy came from provider investments, while a small part came from banked energy credits bought from consumers with an energy surplus.

State requests power supply plans from utilities

Jan 13, 2017
DTE's St. Clair Power Plant in East China, Michigan.
user cgord / wikimedia commons

The Michigan Public Service Commission is giving power supply companies three months to report how they will meet electricity demands through 2021.

This announcement marks the third time the MPSC has requested that utilities come up with a five-year plan.

Sally Talberg is a chairman for the Public Service Commission. In a statement, she said that the Commission is responsible for ensuring electric supplies will fit the public's needs.

Says Talberg,

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The U.S. EPA estimates that companies in Michigan waste up to a third of the energy they buy because of inefficient buildings and equipment.

But most of the companies just keep paying those high energy bills, month after month, because they can't make a business case for a big energy efficiency project. The payback for the upgrades takes too long – often ten or more years.

Andy Levin is the CEO of Lean and Green Michigan.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - With just days left in the two-year term, the Michigan Legislature may be inching toward votes on what's billed as a comprehensive rewrite of state energy laws.

It's legislation that Gov. Rick Snyder has made clear is his highest priority.

The bills have divided majority House Republicans. They would update policies that govern the regulation of utility giants and their competitors, require minimum amounts of renewable sources of electricity and set efficiency benchmarks.

Consumers Energy / Flickr/user

The state Senate has adopted an overhaul of Michigan’s energy policy. It’s designed to ensure reliability as the state’s big utilities replace aging coal-fired plants that have to shut down.

The plan is supported by utilities, but opposed by smaller suppliers that compete with utilities for customers like large factories and school districts. 

State Senator Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) is the plan’s primary architect. He says it requires the smaller suppliers to answer some questions if they want to compete:

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Medical marijuana growers in Lansing may soon have to register with city, if they use an “excessive” amount of electricity.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is proposing an ordinance to require people who continuously use 5000 kilowatts of electricity to register with the city.   

“We have seen a number of cases where the growing equipment used to cultivate medical marijuana overloads the electrical circuits in the home,” says Bernero. “This, of course, creates a fire hazard.”

Inside the Michigan Capitol looking up at the dome.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan legislators are turning their attention from away lawmaking to campaigning.

State lawmakers have a couple days on their calendar next month, but for the most part, Michigan legislators will be busy campaigning.

But as state lawmakers leave Lansing, there’s still more to do on the legislative agenda.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley says it’s a common problem nearing the end of a legislative term. State lawmakers leave to campaign for re-election and leave thousands of bills waiting for action.

wind turbine
Tim Wang / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

General Motors has committed to using electricity solely from wind, solar or biogas for all of its 350 operations in 59 countries around the world -- within the next 34 years.

CEO Mary Barra says it "helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact." 

The automaker says it used about 9 terawatt hours of electricity in 2015 to build its vehicles and power its offices, technical centers and warehouses globally.  A terawatt equals a trillion watts.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Republican-led Michigan Legislature returns for voting this week after a three-month summer break, with plans for an abbreviated calendar before the crucial November election determines which party controls the House.

  Both chambers will have three weeks in session before the election, or nine days.

  There could be a lot on the docket, but lawmakers may leave until the post-election "lame duck" period final resolution of high-priority items such as energy and criminal justice legislation.

We Energies

Michigan is asking its electric grid – known as MISO – to study ways to make electricity more reliable in the U.P.

MISO manages electric transmission in 15 U.S. states, including Michigan, and the Canadian province of Manitoba.  

State energy officials have asked MISO to study the benefit of connecting the U.P. to Ontario's grid, and improving the U.P.'s  connections to the Lower Peninsula. 

Judy Palnau, spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission, says that could improve reliability and reduce costs.

The hidden costs of pollution

Feb 25, 2016
markbwavy / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

We often hear about the economic costs of environmental regulation on the energy industry.

But there’s a flip side to that equation — the price society pays for pollution.  One scientist has added up those costs. And she found they’re going down.

Christoper Sessums / Flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A recent ruling could mean lower rates and refunds for Michigan energy customers.

The initial decision from a federal administrative judge says companies that own transmission lines in several states are overcharging customers.

In Michigan, that could mean customers will see total savings of about $40 million a year, according to an estimate from the group Michigan Citizens Against Rate Excess (CARE).

“Everybody’s going to benefit,” said attorney Robert Strong, who represents industrial customers in Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are expected to take up a major overhaul of Michigan’s energy policy as they return from their November break.  

The House and Senate are debating bills to change the state’s 10 percent renewable energy requirement on electric utilities. The bills’ sponsors insist they are just trying to make Michigan’s energy generation market competitive and fair by removing preferential treatment for particular sources of energy.    

Consumers Energy / Flickr/user

With a contentious road funding deal finally done, state legislators have some big issues to tackle when they come back from vacation, such as modifying Michigan's energy laws.  

Representatives Gary Glenn and Jeff Irwin
Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

A bipartisan package of bills is being considered by the Michigan Legislature that would subsidize homes, businesses, and churches that generate their own electricity using solar power or other methods of home-grown generation.

The big power-generating companies aren’t happy. They say other ratepayers would end up paying for part of the cost of that renewable energy production.

Representatives Gary Glenn, R-Midland, and Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, are two of the co-sponsors of the package along with Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, and Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan.

Khimich Alex / Wikimedia Commons

The Home Builders Association of Michigan wants to remove Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) from the state's residential building code.

AFCIs use a computer chip to detect potentially dangerous arc faults in a home's wiring system. If one is detected, the AFCI shuts down power before an electrical fire can start.

Solar panels
Ford Motor Company / Flickr

DTE Energy is moving forward with a solar power project near Ann Arbor.

Ryan Stanton of The Ann Arbor News reports the project will be visible to motorists traveling the highway. 

Consumers Energy / Flickr/user

The fight is on over how to make sure Michigan's electric grid remains reliable.

The state's two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, will close nine coal-burning electric power plants by next April to comply with regulations on mercury emissions.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

 

Governor Rick Snyder says one of his long-term ambitions is to improve Michigan’s access to electricity by extending the power grid to connect the upper and lower peninsulas.

The Upper Peninsula has just one major power plant, which is operating under a special deal struck with the state. The rest of the UP’s electricity has to come through Wisconsin.

Gov. Snyder presented his goals for energy policy in Michigan Friday at an electrician training facility in Warren.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Gov. Snyder's goal of boosting renewable energy to between 30% and 40% in the next decade includes increased energy efficiency to get to those numbers. The governor says increased efficiency should play a central role in Michigan’s energy future.

Former BWL GM, Peter Lark.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing Board of Water & Light fired its general manager yesterday. The commission voted five-to-three to terminate J. Peter Lark's contract. Lark took a barrage of criticism because of BWL's response to a huge ice storm just before Christmas 2013.

The coal-burning Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan is being kept afloat by ratepayers in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin.
WE Energies

The state of Michigan, several energy providers, and a mine operator have all agreed in principle on a plan that could put a stop to costly rate payments for people in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Utility bills in the Upper Peninsula were expected to jump by 30%. That's in a region where annual wages are much lower than the national average.

user: adamshoop / Flicker

The cost of electricity could jump dramatically next month in the Upper Peninsula.

Residents there might have to start paying to keep a coal plant open that isn't entirely needed anymore. The increase will be a harsh blow to a region that struggles economically.

Brimley is a little town at the end of the road on Lake Superior’s south shore. There’s a bar, a casino and a couple motels. Brimley State Park draws campers here in the summer and into Ron Holden’s IGA grocery store.

"Basically the six weeks of summer pay for the rest of the year’s bills, " he says. On the wall of the IGA are deer heads, a black bear rug, and a flag that says, ‘American by choice, Yooper by da grace of God.’

But being a Yooper might cost more starting December 1. Holden expects his store’s electric bill will be $700 a month higher and he has no idea where he’ll get that money.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The average Lansing Board of Water & Light electric and water customer can expect to see their bills increase, if proposed rate hikes go through.

The utility board will decide next week whether to approve the changes. 

“I don’t imagine any customers are looking forward to rate increase,” admits J. Peter Lark, BWL’s General Manager, “but I think it’s essential.”

Work being done on Orchard Lake Rd where a power pole fell.
DTE Energy

Three days after severe thunderstorms knocked out service to 462,000 customers, utility companies are reporting that tens of thousands of Michigan homes and businesses are still without power. More from the Associated Press: 

Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. says 89,000 of its customers were without power late Monday morning, down from 375,000 hit by Friday's storms. Some schools that lost power were closed Monday. DTE says full restoration probably will take until Tuesday or Wednesday. Wayne County has 53,000 outages and Oakland County has 19,000. Crews from Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and Tennessee are helping. Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp.'s Consumers Energy unit says about 580 customers were without power Monday morning, down from more than 87,000 affected.

DTE said the storms were among "the most damaging in the companies' history."  

Wind gusts of more than 75 miles per hour caused more than 2,000 downed power lines across DTE’s Southeast Michigan service area. 

Strong storms battered parts of  Michigan Friday.  

On the southeast side of the state, 385,000 DTE Energy customers lost electric service last night; about 365,000 customers remain without power.  

Wind gusts of more than 75 miles per hour caused more than 2,000 downed power lines across DTE’s service area. The utility is bringing in crews from Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania to repair the damage.

Consumers Energy says about 55,000 of their customers are waiting for power restoration. Spokeswoman Debra Dodd says Kalamazoo was particularly hard hit.

Chrystal Weesner / Pinterest

A piece of Jackson’s art history, which narrowly avoided the wrecking ball, may soon have new life.

The 28' x 9' glass mural depicting the history of electric power hung in Consumers Energy’s old Jackson headquarters for more than four decades.   

Preservationists were able to save it from the wrecking ball that brought the building down last year. The mural was disassembled and has been in storage ever since.

The plan now is to reconstruct the glass mural, replace its internal lighting system, and build a new outdoor display to house the mural.

The mural would be placed on the grounds of a new city park being built on the site of the old Consumers Energy headquarters.

“We hope to be able to have the new mural in place by….this time next year,” says Grant Bauman, whose part of the team working on the project.

He says the glass mural will add to the mix of public art in downtown Jackson.

This month, the project received a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Organizers still need to raise about $200,000 for the glass mural project.

A Consumers Energy spokesman says the company has contributed to the preservation of the mural in the past, but has not committed to donating to the current project.

Back during the Great Depression, some radicals were strongly against helping starving people at all. They believed that when only their condition was so bad and so hopeless and they couldn’t stand it anymore, they would finally revolt and bring about a new society.

That never happened, of course, in part because the New Deal kept people alive and gave them hope in the future. For a long time, I thought the idea that you could get people to do the right thing only by making them suffer terribly was heartless.

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