December 22, 2010

Groups Ask Snyder To Support Clean Energy Jobs

December 22, 2010 

Groups Ask Snyder To Support Clean Energy Jobs

Letter Focuses On Incoming Administration’s Coal Plant Policies



LANSING, MI—Twelve citizens groups representing hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents today delivered a letter to Governor-Elect Rick Snyder asking him to continue state policies that require consideration of energy alternatives and the need for more energy as part of the process of issuing permits for new coal plants.

The letter to Snyder was sent by leading environmental and energy groups representing citizens from through the state.
“Coal plants are a barrier to economic progress and a hazard to public health,” said the groups in their letter.  “To attract clean energy jobs, Michigan must send a strong signal that our future lies in energy efficiency, wind, solar, advanced battery, and other clean energy technologies – not outdated, 19th-century coal.”

Snyder was urged to support state energy policies that are:
  • Protecting Michigan ratepayers from expensive and unneeded power sources when cheaper alternatives are available;
  • Creating much-needed clean energy jobs in one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global economy; and
  • Improving public health by reducing dangerous emissions and pollution from the power sector that causes illness and contributes to climate change.
Organizations that wrote to Snyder are:
The full text of the letter follows.


Thursday, December 22, 2010

Honorable Rick Snyder, Governor-Elect
State of Michigan
VIA FACSIMILE

Dear Governor-Elect Snyder:
We the undersigned urge you to support Michigan’s path to a clean energy future by continuing to require a thorough analysis of the need for and alternatives to new sources of power before they are built.
State and federal law require consideration of feasible and prudent alternatives to new polluting energy sources like coal plants.  Examination of the need for new power is part of such consideration of alternatives, and is essential for Michigan’s clean energy future.

 Studying both the demand for new power and alternative sources of energy for meeting such demand is vital to Michigan for the following reasons:

  • Protecting Michigan ratepayers from expensive and unneeded power sources when cheaper alternatives are available;
  • Creating much-needed clean energy jobs in one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global economy; and
  • Improving public health by reducing dangerous emissions and pollution from the power sector that causes illness and contributes to climate change.

Coal plants are a barrier to economic progress and a hazard to public health. To attract clean energy jobs, Michigan must send a strong signal that our future lies in energy efficiency, wind, solar, advanced battery, and other clean energy technologies – not outdated, 19th-century coal. Policies such as Executive Directive 2009-02 that provide for the study of the need for and alternatives to new sources of generation are a reasonable, common-sense measure that will help Michigan accomplish its goal of building a robust clean energy sector while protecting ratepayers and our “Pure Michigan” natural resources.

As a technology leader and innovator, you understand how important it is to seize opportunities before others and how essential it is to make wise and measured business decisions.   Michigan businesses and families cannot afford to shoulder the high utility bills it will take to cover the cost of unneeded coal plants with price tags in the billions.  Not only will Michigan lose out on attracting new business, but also high energy costs from unneeded plants will drive out our existing companies.

Moreover, when it comes to growing more clean energy jobs, Michigan cannot afford to delay.  By devoting limited resources toward building new coal plants that would operate for the next 50 years, Michigan will be giving up clean energy jobs to other states and countries.

Investors large and small are eagerly preparing to play larger roles in the U.S. clean energy sector. At the same time, other nations such as China, South Korea and India are ramping up their commitments to clean energy and are poised to surpass the United States in this vital sector. China is investing $12.6 million an hour to grow its clean energy sector. Meanwhile, only six of the top 30 wind, solar and advanced battery manufacturers are based in the United States, even though U.S. innovation planted the seed for key clean energy technologies.

Clean energy is already one of the few bright spots in Michigan’s economy, creating more than 100,000 jobs in Michigan from 2005 to 2008, an 8-percent increase while jobs overall declined 5.4 percent during that period, according to a 2009 Michigan Green Jobs Report.

Examining need and alternatives when it comes to the state’s energy choices will also benefit public health and help protect Michigan’s unique natural resources.  Human health must be a factor when making energy decisions and take into account the fact that air and water pollution from coal plants causes health impacts such as: premature death, asthma, developmental disabilities, and cancer.  Our fishing and tourism industries have already been harmed by the mercury contamination in our rivers, lakes, and streams that make our fish unsafe to eat.  In addition, global climate change poses grave threats to our Great Lakes way of life, and we must take steps to minimize greenhouse gas pollution.

For reasons that are vital to the health of our residents, environment, and economy, we the undersigned urge you to uphold policies such as Executive Directive 2009-02 that examine need and alternatives to new sources of energy.  Now is the time for you to support Michigan businesses and much-needed local jobs by demonstrating your commitment to clean energy, new technology and a strong Michigan future.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.  You can contact us through Anne Woiwode, Michigan Director, Sierra Club, 517-974-2112,anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org or at Sierra Club, 109 E. Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906.
 
Sincerely,

Cyndi Roper
Clean Water Action

Samuel E. Flenner III
Environmental Integrity Project


Terry Miller
Lone Tree Council 
Michael Garfield
Ecology Center


Peter Sinclair
Midland Cares

December 13, 2010

NRDC Fact Sheet on the Consumers Energy Karn Weadock Coal Fired Plant


NRDC Fact Sheet on the Consumers Energy Karn Weadock Coal Fired Plant
"The Proposed Consumers Coal Plant: an Unnecessary Economic and Public Health Risk"

NRDC Fact Sheet on the Consumers Energy Karn Weadock Coal Fired Plant, "The Proposed Consumers Coal Plant: an Unnecessary Economic and Public Health Risk"

November 30, 2010

Statement on Governor Elect Rick Snyder’s Quality of Life cluster announcement

November 30, 2010 
Contact: Anne Woiwode, 517-484-2372 

Statement on Governor Elect Rick Snyder’s
Quality of Life cluster announcement

From the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Director Anne Woiwode

Protecting the health, water and air quality, natural resources and food systems for the state ofMichigan are among the most important responsibilities of the Governor of Michigan.  While the directors of the agencies overseeing these key issues are important, the most important job the Governor has is to clearly articulate the values that he/she expects these directors to embody in their day to day decision making.

The announcement by Governor-elect Rick Snyder of plans to create a Quality of Life cluster of agencies (including the re-split Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Department of Agriculture) and appointment of Dan Wyant as both the executive of this cluster and Director of the re-created Department of Environmental Quality is a surprising one. These agencies touch every person in Michigan virtually everyday, and are critical to our well-being and economic stability as a state. Long term, connecting these agencies with the goal of enhancing protection of health and the environment could be a positive step. However, the re-splitting of the DNRE just a year into its reorganization, the loss of large numbers of staff through early retirement and the  substantial and growing funding shortfalls that threaten their legally mandated requirements to implement federal and state laws, will likely add to the huge hurdles faced by the agencies in the next year or more.

The choices of Rodney Stokes as the Director of the re-created Department of Natural Resources and of Keith Creagh as the Director of the expanded Department of Agriculture puts individuals with long histories and experience in their respective agencies at the helm. Their respective experience will help direct these agencies at a time when overwhelming uncertainty will be a way of life.

The appointment of Dan Wyant as Director of the recreated Department of Environmental Quality and executive of the Quality of Life cluster raises a number of critical questions that Governor-elect Snyder must address.  Mr. Wyant was a major player in the strategy executed by the administration of Governor John Engler to remove all environmental, land use and public health policy protections from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) during the 1990’s.  In the 1980’s Michigan was respected as the state with the best tools for protecting the health of rural residents, and preventing contamination of fisheries, drinking water and recreational waters, but by 1999 the state was notorious for having the worst program in the nation regarding CAFO pollution.

In 2002, the US Environmental Protection Agency under George W. Bush came within a day of beginning proceedings to remove Michigan’s authority over the Clean Water Act because of the decisions made by Mr. Wyant and his colleagues in the Engler Administration. Specifically, the Engler Administration’s decision to transfer authority over water quality from regulation under the DEQ to voluntary compliance under the Department of Agriculture and to resist requiring water quality permits for even badly polluting CAFOs led to a citizen petition to USEPA in 1999 asking for the federal agency to revoke Michigan’s delegation under the Clean Water Act.

The impact of the Engler Administration’s refusal to regulate water and air pollution from CAFOs was largely responsible for the extraordinary difficulty the state of Michigan has even today with forcing the clean up of badly polluting CAFOs, including the Vreba Hoff Dairy CAFOs in Hillsdale and Lenawee County.  Mr. Wyant’s statements as recently as 2005 regarding his belief that the state should not require permits for CAFOs raises important questions about Governor-elect Snyder’s policy direction with regard to implementing, enforcing and complying with federal environmental laws.

We look forward to Governor-elect Snyder sharing with the people of Michigan his intentions regarding these issues, and look forward to the public having a substantial role in shaping the policies that will affect our public health, food quality and resources in the coming years.

November 23, 2010

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Statement on Vreba-Hoff Transfer


November 23 , 2010


Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Statement on Vreba-Hoff Transfer

LANSING, MI - Last week, Rabo AgriFinance, Inc., informed Michigan DNRE officials they have taken possession of the three Vreba-Hoff Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, Vreba Hoff1 and 2, and Waldron Dairy. They are seeking to have the “operation permits” transferred to their wholly owned subsidiary, Southern Michigan Dairies, LLC.

The 3000 remaining cows are now at Vreba-Hoff II in Hillsdale County. But the manure and other animal waste remains at VH-I and Waldron, millions of gallons of it sitting in pits. Under previous court order, the water is to be treated and it must meet permit standards before it is applied to the land. Unfortunately, the “treated water” has never met the permit standards. Instead, the more solid manure and animal waste in the pits is being land-applied as a slurry. It’s unknown what will happen to all thefilthy water that doesn’t meet the permit water quality standards.

Will Rabo AgriFinance, Inc,, or Southern Michigan Dairies, LLC, suddenly be able to treat and dispose of all that filthy water safely, without triggering yet more environmental violations? No matter who owns the leftovers, it all must be safely disposed. Plus, those3000 remaining cows are still producing milk, and they’re still producing yet more manure and other waste. Lots and lots of it.

To add more confusion and uncertainty to this whole situation, a Memorandum of Option Agreement, without any details made public, was signed between Southern Michigan Dairies, LLC(Cedar Falls, Iowa) and Nova Lait, LLC (Waseon, Ohio). Southern Michigan Dairies LLC has granted to WHM Van Bakel certain rights and options to purchase their interest in the real property, ie. the CAFOs. So Mr. Van Bakel has an option to buyback the same properties that AgriFinance has taken over.

What can Michigan residents expect with these dairies’ management in flux? The first two failed, with literally hundreds of environmental violations related to manure and other animal waste that was discharged to waters of the state. First the Vander Hoffs, then Willy Van Bakel, and they each had several different managers in succession. None of them ever brought the dairies into compliance with clean water laws. The state long ago threw up their hands in frustration, and sued. Though many court battles have ensued, nothing has changed, the violations continue to accrue. For the whole long list, check out http://nocafos.org/news.htm.

It’s as yet unknown what Rabo AgriFinance, Inc. plans to do. The Sierra Club sincerely hopes that whatever happens, and who ever owns the CAFOs, that they’re made to do what has not yet been possible - either clean up this operation, or shut it down for good.

September 28, 2010

DTE’s Dirty Expansion: Illegal Effort to Avoid Coal Plant Clean Up

Sierra Club, NRDC Join U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Action Against Detroit Edison’s Dirty, Dangerous Monroe Power Plant


(DETROIT, MI)—The Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council intervened as plaintiffs in an ongoing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Act enforcement action against DTE Energy September 28th. EPA’s lawsuit alleges that DTE unlawfully extended the life of Unit 2 of its dirty and dangerous Monroe coal-fired power plant in Michigan without installing the pollution controls needed to protect public health.

“DTE Energy tried to sneak around their responsibility to control the harmful pollution from the expansion of its Monroe plant,” said James Gignac, Midwest Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The Clean Air Act exists to protect people from potentially deadly pollution. By trying to side-step these rules, DTE is putting people in Michigan in harm’s way.”

Additional pollution from this plant simply adds insult to injury for southeastern Michigan residents. A September 2010 report published by the Clean Air Task Force identifies Monroe as the most harmful coal-fired power plant in the entire country, estimating that 278 deaths, 206 hospital admissions, and 445 heart attacks can be attributed to Monroe<’s pollution in 2010.

“It is long past time that this nearly 40-year-old dinosaur is cleaned up or shut down,” said Shannon Fisk, Senior Attorney in the Midwest Office of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Unit 2 of the DTE Monroe coal plant is the single largest emitter of harmful sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in all of Michigan.”

In March of 2010, DTE began a major modification to its Monroe plant in order to extend the operating life of the aging facility. The Monroe plant is in an area that EPA has classified as being “out of attainment” with national public health based air quality standards, and the major modifications at Monroe should have triggered a Clean Air Act requirement for DTE to install modern pollution controls, which would protect people from harmful pollution coming from the plant.

The Sierra Club and NRDC’s intervention adds substantial value to the EPA case against DTE. As two of the leading environmental advocacy organizations in the country, with active membership in Michigan, the Sierra Club and NRDC will work with EPA to ensure the appropriate process is observed and that DTE is not allowed to unlawfully endanger people in Michigan by increasing the pollution emitted from the Monroe plant. Please contact David Graham-Caso or Josh Mogerman (contact information provided above) for a copy of the intervention filing.

For more information about the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Michigan, please visit http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/mi/ For more information about the Natural Resources Defense Council, please visit http://www.nrdc.org

August 20, 2010

Citizens Win after Controversial Coal Plant in Holland is Denied


Friday, Aug. 20, 2010

Changing energy economy means Michigan must grow clean energy sector


“The citizens of Holland and across West Michigan repeatedly made our voice clear: We don’t want a coal plant that puts people and our future at risk, and today, that voice was heard,” said Holland resident Jill Henke . “Today’s victory is the result of sustained public pressure, and a reminder to Big Coal and utilities everywhere that the writing is on the wall. Michigan wants to move toward a clean energy future that can jumpstart our economy, protect our Great Lakes , and create local jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality today denied a permit to Holland Board of Public Works for an expansion to its coal plant. The MDEQ cited a Public Service Commission report that said, among other things, the BPW hadn’t shown it really needed the 78 megawatt expansion. The MPSC report also said HBPW hadn’t fully explored all its energy generation options, including renewable and clean energy alternatives.

“Citizens across Michigan applaud the MDEQ for making this common sense decision, and also the people of West Michigan who stood up for a strong clean energy future,” said Jan O’Connell the Sierra Club. “More energy efficiency and renewable energy will save money for consumers in the long run and bring in new investments that are creating local jobs. Holland is already leading the way in clean energy, such as advanced auto battery technology. This is an opportunity to send an even stronger message that Holland is the community of the future, built on clean energy and not coal.”

Michigan Coal Rush Brought to a Halt!


Friday, Aug. 20, 2010

With the denial of the Holland Board of Public Works proposed air permit to expand their coal plant, all of the eight coal plants discussed or proposed in Michigan have been denied, withdrawn or stalled! 

Here is the status:

  • Northern Michigan University withdrew coal from their proposed biomass plant in May 2009 after a challenge by Sierra Club.
  • LS Power's MidMichigan proposed Midland coal plant withdrew their air permit in May 2009 after their partner Dynegy pulled out and public input pointed out major flaws.
  • Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative's air permit for a Rogers City plant was denied by DNRE in May 2010 because there was no need and alternatives to meet future electric needs exist. An appeal has been filed, and DNRE has been joined the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council in defending the permit denial in court.
  • Consumers Energy received an air permit for the expansion of the Karn-Weadock plant in Essexville, but in May 2010 announced plans to put the plant on the shelf indefinitely. The air permit is being challenged in court by Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club.
  • Lansing Board of Water and Light drops plans for a new coal plant, choosing to build a combined cycle natural gas plant that will be more flexible and mesh with renewable energy sources in July 2010.
  • Holland Board of Public Works' proposed air permit to expand their coal plant was denied in August 2010. They have recently filed an appeal of that decision.
  • Two plants that had been discussed in the press (M&M Energy in Alma and Tondu Corporation's TES Filer Plant) have not sought permits and there is no indication either plans to move ahead.
  • There is still more to do to assure that Michigan is moving away from coal and toward clean energy sources that produce jobs and energy right here in the Great Lakes State. Learn more about the fight to move Michigan Beyond Coal here or contact our Beyond Coal staff: Tiffany Hartung, Anne Woiwode, and Jan O'Connell (Holland).


see http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/mi/default.aspx

August 12, 2010

Electric Company’s Lawsuit Would Bring Rate Hike


August 12, 2010


Wolverine’s Challenge To State’s Decision On Proposed Rogers City Coal Plant
Threatens Clean Energy Jobs, Revives Financial Risk For State


LANSING, MI—A lawsuit filed this week challenging the state’s denial of a Clean Air Act permit for a proposed costly and unneeded coal-fired power plant for Rogers City seeks to revisit a decision that ended the threat of a nearly 60-percent electric rate hike for Michigan consumers.

Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative on Wednesday appealed the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s (“MDNRE”) rejection of the company’s application for an air permit for its proposed coal-fired power plant in Rogers City. The appeal was filed in the 28th Circuit Court of Missaukee County.

“Wolverine’s stubborn quest for an unnecessary coal plant in Rogers City is an outrage,” said Jean Veselenak, a Rogers City resident. “We need clean energy jobs and the opportunity to transition to better ways to produce energy, not more rate hikes to support dirty coal. Experts and regulators evaluated this proposed plant and said it was too costly and we don’t need it. Rogers City residents agree. Instead of now pursuing a better strategy for consumers, Wolverine officials want to spend their members’ money on a lawsuit to convince a judge that they are right and everyone else is wrong.”

In evaluating the Wolverine project, the Michigan Public Service Commission found that the proposed coal plant would increase electricity rates for consumers by 59.2% to 20.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, and would cost the average residential customer $76.95 more every month. Environmental, consumer and energy groups had all opposed the proposed plant.
MDNRE denied the permit in May, stating that there is no need for the proposed power plant and that alternative methods are available that would supply the customers of the four electric cooperatives that make up Wolverine with electricity at a much cheaper rate than the cost of building a new coal plant.

“Despite road bocks and warning signals by major credit ratings agencies across the nation that new coal plants are expensive and likely to be plagued by long-term regulatory and financial problems, Wolverine has continued to support the project,” said Anne Woiwode, State Director of Sierra Club of Michigan. “In the face of all these risks, it is unwise to spend Coop member money on developing a risky, expensive and unnecessary coal plant.”
Since 2001, 132 proposed coal plants around the country have been cancelled due to rising costs, financial riskiness and the existence of better alternatives.

The few new coal plant projects that are moving forward are incurring huge cost overruns. The Peabody Energy Prairie State Plant in Illinois under construction now has doubled in cost, leaving ratepayers on the hook to pay for $2 billion in cost overruns so far, and similar cost escalations have been experienced in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and other states throughout the country.

“It is common sense that before authorizing a nearly $2 billion coal plant, MDNRE would evaluate whether there was a need for or better alternatives to that plant,” said Shannon Fisk, Senior Attorney for the Midwest Office of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Wolverine’s continued pursuit of an unnecessary, costly and dirty coal plant is not good for ratepayers or Michigan’s economy.”

In June, Traverse City area ratepayers raised concerns and questions about the cost of the plant during the Cherryland Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting. The ratepayers asked the board to fully disclose the estimated costs for participation in the Wolverine coal plant proposal before final decisions were made to appeal the permit decision, but that request was not granted. Ratepayers ran a series of TV and radio ads encouraging Coop members to vote for candidates who oppose the coal plant and support clean energy options as better, more responsible business. The ads can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GtqyhGkMhg

“We don’t need to waste millions on dirty, unnecessary coal plants,” said Faith Bugel, Senior Attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “The DNRE made the right decision for Michigan’s ratepayers, for Michigan’s workers and for Michigan’s environment.”
Others who challenged the proposed Rogers City coal plant also reacted strongly to news of Wolverine’s lawsuit.

“Wolverine Coops were told that there was no need to spend billions of dollars to build this plant,” said Tom Karas of Michigan Energy Alternatives Project, “but management of these utilities won’t pull the plug on the Rogers City coal plant. They want to gamble with their members’ money. Appealing the state’s decision would only make a bad economic story worse for coop members”

“Wolverine should invest in energy efficiency and energy sources that will serve their member cooperatives better by developing cleaner electricity generation and keeping costs lower,” said Susan Harley, Policy Director for Clean Water Action.

July 21, 2010

Consumers Energy Hides Coal Ash Leaks, Puts People at Risk


July 21, 2010

FOIA request shows Consumers Energy violated state rules

BAY CITY – A controversial Bay City coal plant violated state law when it failed to monitor hazardous coal ash at its two landfills in the Saginaw-Bay area and report leaks that potentially endangered people, the citizens group Lone Tree Council said today.
The coal ash landfills belong to Consumers Energy, which operates the Karn-Weadock facility near Bay City. Coal ash leachate containing arsenic, boron, lithium and sulfate – all toxic chemicals linked to serious illnesses –have been previously discharged into Saginaw Bay from the sites.

“Consumers Energy’s coal ash cover-up only puts local families at greater risk, highlighting the fact that Michigan must slam the brakes on coal and turn to more clean energy,” Lone Tree Council President Terry Miller said. “Coal is killing Michigan jobs and coal ash is poisoning our water, land and air. Michigan must invest in more clean energy and energy efficiency now to protect our families, end our dangerous dependence on coal and create good-paying jobs for our working families.”

The Lone Tree Council obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) showing that Consumers Energy received a notice of violation July 1, 2010. The notice from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Energy read, in part: “Unfortunately, the inaction by Consumers Energy to notify the Department of sampling challenges, and lack of first quarter sampling, and lack of monitoring of potentiometric levels, are all violations of each landfill’s approved HMP and operating license.” (Emphasis is in the original DNRE letter)

According to the DNRE, Consumers Energy’s Karn-Weadock complex failed its first quarter 2010 reporting requirements to monitor discharges from its toxic ash landfills. Consumers Energy had reached agreement with the state to monitor locations where groundwater from the ash landfills mixes with water in Saginaw Bay. Consumers Energy failed to comply with its hydrogeological monitoring plan, which is part of its operating license. Consumers Energy was also cited for failure to notify the DNRE that it couldn’t meet its requirements.

Consumers Energy has two landfills on Saginaw Bay: a 292-acre site and a 172-acre site. These landfills contain bottom ash and fly ash from decades of coal burning on the mouth of the Saginaw River. The ash was converted to slurry and piped to the landfills. Historically the landfills were unlined and the utility failed to create a barrier between bay water and groundwater from the sites. The utility received several variances to allow creation of these landfills in coastal marshes and state bottom lands. Testing ordered by the state in 2002 showed levels of arsenic that exceeded water quality levels leaching from the landfills into the bay, as well as other contaminants. The utility has since negotiated a response that included a barrier at the Weadock site and additional monitoring. A barrier at the Karn landfill is presently being explored by the company and the state.

“We applaud the DNRE for holding Consumers Energy accountable,” Miller said. “We cannot allow Consumers Energy to brazenly sweep its toxic coal ash problems under the rug.”

The notice of violation comes on the heels of national pressure to put coal ash residues under federal law as hazardous waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently issued two approaches: one would regulate coal ash as toxic waste and another would essentially leave the level of regulation up to individual states. The EPA is conducting hearings in locations around the country as well as taking comments.

July 7, 2010

Sierra Club Applauds MPSC Staff Finding No Need for Holland Coal Plant Expansion


 July 7, 2010

Alternative sources including efficiency and purchased power would meet
 electric needs cheaper than coal plant expansion proposal


Sierra Club volunteer and Holland area resident Jill Henke says “we really don’t need another polluting#coal plant in this area,” so she was thrilled to hear that the Michigan Public Service Commission staff#agrees with her. Jill has been actively involved in the fight for clean energy options and to stop the#Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) proposed expansion of the existing James DeYoung coal-fired#power plant in Holland over the past couple of years.

On July 7, the MPSC staff issued its findings that HBPW did not make the case that this plant was#needed, and that the municipal utility failed to adequately consider alternatives, was overly optimistic#about growth in demand, and is proposing the coal plant expansion even though it will cost Holland#residents and ratepayers more than other options. The MPSC staff report was prepared for the#Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) based on the HBPW Electric Generation#Alternatives Analysis (EGAA) and wide ranging public input and comment. The MPSC staff report is#considered by the DNRE as part of its review of the proposed air pollution permit to install HBPW is#seeking for its proposed coal plant expansion.

Governor Jennifer Granholm issued an Executive Directive in early 2009 requiring that DNRE consider#the need the proposed power and the availability of alternatives to meet that need before issuing air#pollution permits for proposed coal plants. DNRE denied a permit application by Wolverine Power Supply#Cooperative this May, but issued a permit in December to CMS for a proposed plant. CMS in May put that#proposed coal plant expansion near Bay City on hold after also concluding that it did not make sense to#proceed with their plant proposal at this time. Timing for the DNRE decision on the HBPW permit is not#known, but could take several more months and involves review of thousands of individual comments and#technical and legal input on pollution issues as well as need and alternatives.

“ I really praise the Public Service Commission staff for their findings,” said Jan O’Connell, Sierra Club#Michigan Beyond Coal Campaign organizer. “There’s been a growing concern in the Holland community#about coal. This is really a great opportunity for the Holland Board of Public Works to go back to the#drawing board and get it right.”


June 10, 2010

Michigan consumers take on Cherryland Electric over coal plant


June 8, 2010

Contacts:
Tom Karas, Michigan Energy Alternatives Project 231-590-8164 

Tiffany Hartung, Sierra Club, Beyond Coal Campaign Office: (248) 549-6213 Cell: (248) 933-2451

Media push begins to influence annual meeting of member-owners

TRAVERSE CITY – A coalition of consumers, watchdog groups, and environmentalists are taking to the airwaves to influence the board of directors voting for Cherryland Electric Co-op. A series of TV and radio ads began airing June 7 to encourage co-op members to vote for anti-coal plant candidates who see clean energy options as better, more responsible business.

“Cherryland and Wolverine Co-ops were told that there was no need to spend billions of dollars to build this plant,” said Tom Karas of Michigan Energy Alternatives Project, “but management of these utilities won’t pull the plug on the Rogers City coal plant. They keep wanting to gamble with their member’s money. Appealing the State’s decision would only make a sad economic story even sadder for members”.

On May 21, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment denied Wolverine’s air permit, stating that there was no need for the power the plant would produce and that there were alternative ways to meet the power needs in the future.

Governor Jennifer Granholm affirmed the decision, saying the plant was a “job killer” because its higher electric rates would scare away new business and new jobs.

Since then, Cherryland’s general manager has said the company knew the plant wouldn’t be cheap, but it was “affordable.” Wolverine’s legislative director also told reporters that the ruling could be easily appealed and the Governor acted outside her office. Those comments, according Maureen Charbonneau, explain why she is running for a seat on the Cherryland board.

“They apparently want to keep gambling with our money,” Charbonneau said, “but it’s not theirs to gamble. It’s ours; the members are the real owners of the co-op.”

A TV spot is set to run on local NBC affiliate, WPBN-TV, from June 7-16. It urges co-op members to send in the ballot included in their May Country Lines magazine or attend the annual meeting, at Wuerful Park at 3pm on June 16. Radio spots are also airing throughout the day on radio stations WJML, WCCW, and WTCM and Newstalk AM 850. Postcards reminding ratepayers about the meeting were mailed on June 7.

“Clearly, Cherryland isn’t getting the message,” said Tiffany Hartung, with the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club, which created the mailer. “Michigan doesn’t need this dirty, costly coal plant. If this board won’t respect consumers’ requests for a cheaper, cleaner alternative than coal, than we need a new board at Cherryland.”
The claim of cheaper and cleaner has recenly been reinforced by reports in both the Detroit Free Press and the Bay City Times. Out of the original 150 coal plant proposals the United States was facing three years ago, 125 have been withdrawn, mostly due to economic reasons.

For more info go to http://www.Co-opConversations.org/. To view the new video ads being aired on local TV, visit http://Youtube.com/ and enter “Cherryland Electric.”

Read Anne Woiwode's letter to the editor in the Traverse City Record Eagle below or click on this link: http://record-eagle.com/opinion/x1385495008/Forum-Unanswered-questions-cost-TCL-P
page1image28000



June 29, 2010

Forum: Unanswered questions cost TCL&P

Traverse City is one of the most progressive communities when it comes to pursuing non-fossil-fuel energy sources, and residents deserve a lot of credit for that. However, the city got waylaid with the idea that biomass electric generation was a no-lose situation.

Despite a lot of requests that Traverse City Light & Power carefully consider the full impact of these proposed plants on the forests and pollution, Light & Power declined to do a complete environmental review.

The news that the biomass plants are on hold and that Light & Power will look at natural gas opens the window for all alternatives to get consideration.

What was most troubling in the article announcing the hold on biomass is Light & Power's suggestion that the problem was its inability to sell the plan to the public. That misses the boat entirely. An intelligent and informed public raised many questions that officials in Traverse City dodged or declined to answer.

Public officials thought the right thing to do was to hire people to convince the public to go along with a project instead of opening up discussion and answering the many valid questions raised. This is an object lesson about what our representative democracy is about — the decision-makers are tasked with making hard decisions, but their first job is to make sure they have asked and answered all the right questions, not to make a decision and then try to figure how to sell it.

One unanswered question was where the wood would come from to run the plant. There was not enough waste wood; and much of the standing timber being counted on to provide wood for these plants is not actually available, and other biomass and biofuel plant proposals in the northern Lower Peninsula and the eastern Upper Peninsula overlap the draw area for these plants.

This remains a huge issue that the state must address in a comprehensive way before permitting or providing funding for more projects, instead of simply repeating the misleading statement that Michigan is growing more wood than we cut.

If you live in the area of a proposed biomass or biofuels plant and have a woodlot, wouldn't you like to know whether the company is intent on using your timber as part of their pool? If you are the customer of a publicly owned utility, wouldn't you like to know if they knew where the fuel was going to come from before investing millions in a plant?

The last line of the article talks about there being no silver bullet for the energy issues we face. Bingo! That means it is time to make sure big decisions, whether coal, biomass, wind, solar or anything else other than reducing energy use, are addressed in a comprehensive way.

We must look at site-specific opportunities and barriers, require good environmental review and weigh trade-offs. Light & Power has the opportunity now to continue being a real leader in Michigan's energy future.

About the author: Anne Woiwode is the state director for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. 

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May 21, 2010

Groups Applaud Wolverine Coal Plant Permit Denial by Governor Granholm, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Environment

Governor Follows Through on Commitments to Clean Energy Jobs


Local residents and groups declared victory today in an almost three-year battle against a proposed coal plant in RogersCity. Area residents applauded Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (DNRE) Director Rebecca Humphries for denying a permit needed to build the controversial plant.

“We in Rogers City are profoundly grateful for this decision,” said Jean Veselenak, a resident of Rogers City. “The cost of Wolverine coal would have meant diminished health, diminished economy, and great injury to our environment which sustains our lives. Wolverine must now put its head to the real thing; wind, solar; and new technology that already exists in Michigan. Our families deserve these jobs and their health after long promises.”

The DNRE decision states there is no need for the proposed power plant, and that alternative methods are available that would supply the customers of the four electric cooperatives that make up Wolverine with electricity at a much cheaper rate than the cost of building a new coal plant. State officials estimated that the proposed plant would increase the electric rates charged by the cooperatives by at least 59.2% even after Wolverine suggested reducing the plant by half.

“With this decision, Governor Granholm reinforced Michigan’s clean energy jobs future by moving away from coal and supporting today’s job creators—renewable energy and energy efficiency,” said Anne Woiwode, State Director of Sierra Club of Michigan. “Coal is an outdated, dirty and dangerous way to generate power and it is a dead end for Michigan jobs.”

“Today, the State of Michigan echoed what we’ve been saying for years: we don’t need to waste millions on dirty, unnecessary coal plants,” said Faith Bugel, Senior Attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “This is the right decision for Michigan’s ratepayers, for Michigan’s workers and Michigan’s environment.”

Today’s decision arose out of an Executive Order from Granholm last year that instructed the DNRE, with input from the staff of the Michigan Public Service Commission, to evaluate Michigan’s energy needs and the availability of alternatives to coal plants. The guidance arose from provisions in the federal Clean Air Act adopted in the 1970s, which allow states to require consideration of alternatives in weighing whether to issue or deny an air pollution permit. The Michigan Environmental Protection Act, which calls for consideration of alternatives to activities that pollute, impair or destroy the environment, was also cited during public comment as rationale for the state to deny the Wolverine permit, as well as other coal plant air permits also under consideration.

“The denial of this permit clears the way for Wolverine to invest in energy efficiency and electric generation sources that will serve their member cooperatives better by developing cleaner electricity generation and keeping costs lower,” said Susan Harley, Policy Director for Clean Water Action. “We applaud Governor Granholm and Director Humphries for making decisions that will serve Michigan well today and for generations to come.”

DNRE's documents explaining the denial of the Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative air permit to install can be found here: http://www.deq.state.mi.us/aps/cwerp.shtml#WPSC

CMS Energy Faced Coal Challenges at Shareholder Meeting


Shareholders Resolutions Received High Support 
While Ratepayers Rallied Outside Annual Meeting


LANSING – CMS Energy shareholders are sending a clear signal they have deep concerns about the proposed coal plant near Bay City and the risk it poses to the company’s financial stability after a significant percentage of shareholders voted today in support of proposals from two investors calling on the utility giant to disclose risks associated with its coal ash disposal and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

While the proposals put up for proxy votes were not endorsed at the shareholders’ meeting in Jackson, The strong support for the shareholder proposals are a sign of investors’ deep concern that CMS Energy’s poor environmental performance and continuing investment in coal are putting shareholder value at risk.

“CMS Energy is wasting an opportunity to be not just a true energy leader, but also more profitable down the road so it can continue creating Michigan jobs and providing Michigan energy to families and businesses,” said Margaret Weber, a proxy for a CMS Energy Shareholder. “We will not give up. We will continue the fight to make CMS Energy – our company – a leader in clean energy investments and clean energy jobs, not a dinosaur from the coal age.”

During the meeting CMS Energy Shareholder Margaret Weber delivered a large bundle of Michigan petition signatures to now former CEO David Joos and current CEO John Russel telling him that “these 8,000+ Michiganders are asking CMS Energy – all of us in this room - to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency, not another dirty, expensive, and unnecessary coal plant. They hope that CMS Energy will focus on energy efficiency and clean energy as lower cost options that will create good jobs and help them keep paying their bills.

Weber asked “As on of these 8,000 Michigan residents, I would like to know what the rate increase will be to pay for this new coal plant and when you will provide investors with an analysis of the rate impact of this new coal plant, including potential customer defaults and loss of customers?”

Citing that major credit ratings agencies across the nation have warned that new coal plants are expensive and likely to be plagued by long term regulatory and financial problems, shareholder Peter Every asked management “In the face of all these risks, wouldn’t it be wise to stop spending investor money on developing a risky, expensive, and unnecessary coal plant, and instead replace our old and inefficient coal plants with energy efficiency and clean energy?

Weber also raised concern at the rally about the re-election of board member Richard Gabrys, who also sits on the Massey Energy board of directors. Massey Energy is a coal company with a long history of violating the law, both in safety and in environmental compliance.

“CMS Energy shareholders sent a message to their company’s management that making further investments in old coal technology is a bad decision,” said Tiffany Hartung, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign. “Not only has Consumers Energy CEO David Joos refused to listen to the people of Michigan for years, he’s also refused to heed the warning signals from the financial industry about the risks of building new coal plants. Shareholders demand change and they deserve a company that is financially responsible.”

Two CMS Energy investors – the Office of the Comptroller of New York City and the As You Sow Foundation – submitted the shareholder proposals. The shareholder proposals call for CMS to:

  • Plan for a more expensive carbon future by adopting quantitative goals for reducing its total greenhouse gas emissions and reporting to shareholders on these plans
  • Disclose all potential risks associated with toxic coal ash disposal and to disclose steps the company is taking to reduce exposure to these risks.

A similar coal ash shareholder resolution filed with MDU Resources recently received 25.6 percent of the vote in favor of increased transparency on this key environmental issue – high enough for the company chairman to agree to shareholder demands at its annual general meeting. Investors in Southern Company, which dropped its own plans for a new coal plant in Mississippi last month, have also filed similar resolutions. 

April 22, 2010

Citizens Group Applauds Legislators for Cost-Lowering Energy Efficiency Plan


Legislation will help reduce energy costs for families, create Michigan jobs


LANSING – ReEnergize Michigan! today applauded Michigan legislators for introducing a plan that would strengthen energy efficiency programs in Michigan, a move that would help reduce energy costs for families and businesses while creating much-needed Michigan jobs. REM! is a coalition of labor, consumer, citizens, faith and other groups fighting to build a strong energy future for Michigan.

“Energy efficiency means slashing waste, saving money, cutting costs and creating jobs, and that’s why we applaud this plan to strengthen Michigan’s energy efficiency standard,” said Gayle Miller of the Sierra Club. “A stronger energy efficiency standard will help reform Michigan’s energy industry to benefit small business and entrepreneurs, creating thousands of jobs. Investing in more energy efficiency can help homeowners and business owners reduce their utility bills and keep energy costs low. That’s going to help Michigan become more competitive in today’s energy economy.”

The new legislative plan will strengthen Michigan’s current Energy Efficiency Savings Standard. Michigan’s current energy efficiency standard requires that utilities reach annual efficiency savings of 1 percent for electric power and 0.75 percent for natural gas by 2012, measured as a percentage of total annual retail sales. These bills ramp up the savings for each source of power in 0.25-percent increments so each standard is doubled by 2016. A 2009 report by Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. estimates that as much as 5,355 MW of clean, pollution-free energy could be captured and put on the market through energy efficiency measures in Michigan.

Energy efficiency is also good for Michigan jobs. In March, a report released by Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance: Expanding Michigan’s Energy Optimization Standard showed that Michigan could increase the number of jobs in its energy efficiency sector to over 7,600 jobs if it doubled its current standard by 2019.

Energy efficiency is Michigan’s cheapest and most promising job-creating energy opportunity. At a cost of 3 cents per kW/h, saving energy through energy efficiency makes better financial sense than building new generating capacity, which costs upwards of 12 cents per kW/h. Michigan can get the same amount of power from energy efficiency as it can from dirty sources of power at a fraction of the cost.

Spearheading the legislative plan are Reps. Kathy Angerer (D-Dundee), Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard), Bob Constan (D-Dearborn Heights), Lisa Brown (D - W. Bloomfield), Robert Jones (D-Kalamazoo), Fred Miller (D-Mount Clemens), Deb Kennedy (D-Brownstown), Joan Bauer (D-Lansing).

“Energy efficiency is vital to Michigan’s economy and our citizens’ quality of life,” said Susan Harley of Clean Water Action. “Energy efficiency can help increase the value of a home or business and it helps people, especially seniors and people with medical conditions, stay more comfortable year round. We applaud Reps. Angerer, McDowell, Constan, Brown, Jones, Miller, Kennedy, and Bauer for working to give Michigan’s families the opportunities we need to get jobs in the clean energy economy.”

The three main methods of achieving energy efficiency are through weatherization, upgrading mechanical and lighting systems, and investing in energy efficient appliances.

Investments in energy efficiency create jobs throughout the state. Unlike coal or nuclear power, virtually all the money spent on installing efficiency measures stays within the state, as local labor is used for energy efficiency installations. Job categories created by efficiency investments include energy auditors and technicians, electricians, heating and cooling contractors, pipefitters and plumbers, builders and contractors, manufacturers, and program administrators. Efficiency upgrades drive demand for products made by Michigan companies such as Guardian Glass and Dow. Retailers such as hardware, lumber, big box and department stores all benefit from energy efficiency programs as people buy windows, storm doors, caulk, insulation as well as new appliances, furnaces, washers and dryers.


“This plan is a win-win for Michigan that benefits ordinary families, businesses and future generations,” said Wendy Jaehn of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. “Virtually every study on energy shows that energy efficiency provides the greatest bang for the buck, helping Michigan squeeze value out of every dollar invested. Now is the time to aggressively go after more jobs, and Michigan can do that with a stronger, more aggressive energy efficiency standard.” 

April 19, 2010

Sierra Club Activist Wins Prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize

Michigan farmer Lynn Henning recognized with $150,000 prize for her work to protect water and communities from factory farms 


SAN FRANCISCO – Michigan farmer and Sierra Club activist Lynn Henning has been awarded this year's prestigious Goldman prize, considered the "Nobel prize for environmental activism." Henning took action after concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO's) began polluting the water near the 300-acre corn and soybean farm she works with her husband in Lenawee County. Over the last decade she has become a leading voice calling on state and federal authorities to hold these livestock factory farms accountable to water and air quality laws. "Lynn Henning represents the soul of grassroots activism," said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "Faced with a threat to her community's environment, Lynn organized with her neighbors and pushed successfully to hold the polluters accountable. This is a thrilling day for the Sierra Club family."

When factory farms surrounded her property, Henning and other concerned neighbors formed Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM) and began to organize. Reaching out to neighbors, fellow farmers and Environmental Protection Agency enforcement officials, Henning gathered her own data on factory farm pollution. Regularly driving a 125-mile circuit multiple times a week to track factory farm pollution and to take water samples, Henning learned about the sources of the pollution affecting her community and decided to take action.

“The Henning family, like so many neighbors of animal factories, has endured unspeakable pollution, horrible health impacts and direct threats to their safety and security for speaking out about this outrageous pollution" said Anne Woiwode, director of the Sierra Club's Michigan Chapter. “Lynn’s response has been to fight harder, to learn everything she could about CAFO pollution, to teach others what she knows and to advocate for solutions with anyone who could possibly stop this horror. Lynn is one of the bravest, smartest and most determined people I’ve ever known, and an inspiration every day.”

Henning joined forces with the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter as a volunteer in the Water Sentinel program in 2001, and she joined the staff in 2005. As a result of Henning's work, the state of Michigan has levied hundreds of citations against factory farms for environmental violations, and federal officials have taken notice. Sierra Club has proudly supported Henning's efforts to develop water quality monitoring programs nationwide to measure pollution levels from factory farms.

"The Sierra Club is extremely proud of Lynn's accomplishments in stopping new animal factories, bringing polluting animal factories to justice and educating the public to the very serious health, food safety and environmental hazards they present," said Scott Dye, Director of the Sierra Club's Water Sentinels program. "We're honored and humbled that the Goldman Prize has recognized Lynn's outstanding work on the world stage."

The Goldman Environmental Prize, now in its 21st year, is awarded annually to grassroots environmental heroes from each of the world’s inhabited continental regions and is the largest award of its kind. Winners receive $150,000 each and will be recognized at an invitation-only ceremony Monday, April 19, 2010 at 5 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera House. Winners will also be honored at a smaller ceremony on Wednesday, April 21 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

For more information visit http://sierraclub.typepad.com/scrapbook/2010/04/michigan-clean-water-activist-wins-2010-goldman-prize.html 

March 21, 2010

Groups Take Action on Proposed Bay City Coal Plant

Permit fails to protect public health from unnecessary and dirty coal plant


CHICAGO (March 31, 2010) – Concerned environmental groups have taken action to protect Michigan’s public health and clean energy future from Consumers Energy’s proposed coal-fired power plant near Bay City, MI. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club challenged the plant’s recently issued air permit for not doing enough to limit harmful pollution and for the state’s failure to fully consider cleaner, better alternatives for Michigan.

"Consumers’ proposed $3.57 billion coal plant is dirty, expensive, and unneeded,” said Shannon Fisk, staff attorney for NRDC: “And to add insult to injury, it would exacerbate the already problematic issue of coal ash fouling Saginaw Bay. The state has the opportunity to rebuild its economy with cutting edge energy technologies which will create jobs and clean the air---but that only happens if state agencies and utility companies do the right thing. We need to implement these cleaner, modern alternatives.”

“What Michigan needs is clean, reliable electricity, and Consumers Energy and the state are letting us down,” said Anne Woiwode, State Director of Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter. “We have alternatives available to meet our state’s electric needs, create many more good-paying jobs, and protect the health of our communities. Michigan families can’t afford to carry the enormous burden of the state’s failure to hold Consumers Energy accountable.”

Consumers Energy is seeking to build a $3.57 billion, 830 MW coal-fired power plant next to the existing Karn-Weadock generating station on the shores of Saginaw Bay. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment (MDNRE) issued an air pollution permit for the proposed plant that fails to address many important issues related to public health, such as failing to fully protect surrounding communities from dangerous fine particulate matter that can lodge deep inside the lungs and cause respiratory problems. The permit also fails to do enough to limit emissions of mercury, which has been linked to developmental problems in children.

Last year, NRDC released A Green Energy Alternative for Michigan, showing that aggressive energy efficiency programs combined with the potential of 27,000 GWh of power from cleaner energy technologies can fulfill the state’s power needs. The state failed to properly evaluate these cleaner and more technologically advanced solutions in choosing to move the Consumers coal project forward. Although Consumers agreed to retire some existing coal-fired power generation by the end of 2017 as a condition to the permit, those aging plants were likely to be retired anyway, making this agreement little more than an empty shell.

Beyond the air pollution issues, concern has been raised about the additional pollution created by the coal ash resulting from the new plant’s operations. According to the Bay City Times and state records, the two ash landfills at Karn-Weadock have been leaking toxics to Saginaw Bay for years, in excess of state standards meant to protect aquatic organisms, drinking water and public health. The new plant would create up to an additional 210,000 tons of dangerous coal ash waste annually.
____________________________________________________________________________________
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing. http://www.nrdc.org
Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself. Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. 

February 23, 2010

Citizens Group, Energy Efficiency Workers Call for Stronger Michigan Energy Efficiency Standard

Report shows stronger standard will help reduce
energy costs for families, create Michigan jobs


LANSING – ReEnergize Michigan! partners, along with energy efficiency professionals, unveiled a new report today (http://www.mwalliance.org/meea-publications/meea-report-expanding-michigans-energy-optimization- standard) that found thousands of jobs could be created and billions of dollars could be saved in Michigan with a stronger energy efficiency standard. ReEnergize Michigan! is a coalition of businesses, labor, consumer, citizens, faith and other groups fighting to build a strong energy future for Michigan.

“Energy efficiency means slashing waste, increasing savings, cutting costs and creating jobs. That’s, why Michigan must act quickly to strengthen our energy efficiency standard,” said Mike Shriberg of the Ecology Center, a member of ReEnergize Michigan! “Strengthening the standard will help move Michigan in the right direction and give us the tools to compete in today’s energy economy. Michigan can create more than 7,600 in the energy efficiency industry if we strengthen our energy efficiency standard.”

Michigan’s current energy efficiency standard requires that utilities reach annual efficiency savings of 1 percent for electric power and 0.75 percent for natural gas by 2012, measured as a percentage of total annual retail sales. A new report released today by Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, “Expanding Michigan’s Energy Optimization Standard,” shows that Michigan could increase the number of jobs in its energy efficiency sector to over 7,600 jobs if it doubled its current standard by 2019.

“Energy efficiency is the best way to put money back into consumers’ pockets and put Michigan back to work,” said Sam Flannery of the Building Science Academy, which trains Michigan citizens in homebuilding, construction and energy efficiency. “Every day, we see how energy efficiency is providing new opportunities to people across Michigan, from helping workers get a new job to cutting energy bills for homeowners to helping businesses strengthen their bottom lines and create jobs.”

Investments in energy efficiency create jobs throughout the state. Unlike coal or nuclear power, virtually all the money spent on installing efficiency measures stays within the state, as local labor is used for energy efficiency installations. Jobs created by efficiency investments include energy auditors and technicians, electricians, heating and cooling contractors, pipefitters and plumbers, builders and contractors, manufacturers, and program administrators. Efficiency upgrades drive demand for products made by Michigan companies such as Guardian Glass and Dow. Retailers such as hardware, lumber, big box and department stores all benefit from energy efficiency programs as people buy windows, storm doors, caulk, insulation as well as new appliances, furnaces, washers and dryers.

“As a building contractor, I see firsthand how families and businesses are demanding more ways to save energy costs, and energy efficiency is the best way to reach that goal,” Doug Selby from Meadowlark Home Performance said. “Strengthening Michigan’s energy efficiency standards will roll out the welcome mat for more investments in energy efficiency, which will save money, keep our dollars in Michigan and create local jobs. We see it every day in our industry and we urge our leaders to give small businesses and working families the tools that can help us create energy jobs and save money.”

At a cost of 3 cents per kW/h, saving energy through energy efficiency makes better financial sense than building new generating capacity, which costs upwards of 12 cents per kW/h. Currently, total savings for Michigan customers is $15.4 billion. According to the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, doubling that standard would save customers over $22 billion.

“Saving energy through greater efficiency will slash utility bills for consumers and businesses, a crucial cost savings in these tough economic times,” said Gayle Miller of the Sierra Club. “Energy efficiency can help increase the value of a home or business and it helps people, especially seniors and people with medical conditions, stay more comfortable year round. Energy efficiency is vital to Michigan’s economy and our citizens’ quality of life.”

The three main methods of achieving energy efficiency are through weatherization, upgrading mechanical and lighting systems, and investing in energy efficient appliances.

“This plan is a win-win for Michigan that benefits ordinary families, businesses and future generations,” said David Gard of the Michigan Environmental Council. “Virtually every study on energy shows that energy efficiency provides the greatest bang for the buck, helping Michigan squeeze value out of every dollar invested. Now is the time to aggressively go after more jobs, and Michigan can do that with a stronger, more aggressive energy efficiency standard.”

If we fail to invest and capitalize on the cheapest form of energy, neighboring states that do will be more competitive. If our electric rates are too high, businesses won’t come here. Investing in energy efficiency is the best way to keep Michigan competitive and create jobs. 

January 14, 2010

New Coal Plant Will Hurt Michigan Wallets, Jobs, Health

Granholm Administration’s decision to OK Bay City plant will kill jobs; won’t protect families


LANSING – Clean energy and environmental groups today criticized Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality for giving the green light to a controversial coal plant project in Bay City, and outlined the true costs of how the plant will drive up utility bills and hurt families and job creation.
“Consumers Energy is hiding the full and true cost of building a coal plant Michigan doesn’t need, that will saddle ratepayers with bigger bills and continue a dangerous legacy of harmful pollution,” Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Director Anne Woiwode said. “This air permit breaks Governor Granholm’s promise to our families to move us toward a clean energy economy. Thousands of people committed to Michigan’s future are rallying to fight this badly flawed decision because our jobs, our health and our future are at stake.”

The installed cost for the Consumers Energy coal plant has skyrocketed recently. In June 2007, total construction and financing costs were estimated at approximately $1.88 billion. In January 2009, Consumers Energy said the total installed cost for the coal plant would be $3.58 billion, which is a 90- percent spike in costs from its original estimates in less than two years. Publicly, however, Consumers has been citing a lower $2.72 billion construction cost, which is “deflated” to reflect an assumption that the plant commenced operation in 2009 as opposed to the actual proposed date of 2017. The Bay City coal plant’s hidden cost increases are typical of price over-runs in projects across the nation, which would be paid for by Consumers’ ratepayers if the plant moves forward.

“Consumers Energy is making a bad energy decision and sticking ratepayers like me with the tab for its mistake,” said Terry Miller, a Bay City ratepayer and member of the Lone Tree Council. “Michigan families should not be made to pay, in dollars and with our health, for a coal plant nobody wants or needs. This decision is a complete failure of leadership and a slap in the face to Michigan families who want a strong energy future.”

To get the new Bay City plant, Consumers has agreed to retire at least five older plants. But those plants have all been cited by the U.S. EPA for violating the Clean Air Act for decades and would almost certainly be shutdown in the near future. As such, the retirement deal allows Consumers to continue illegally polluting the air for the next almost eight years from a number of aging plants, and locks Michigan into thousands of tons of additional air pollution, and approximately seven million tons of additional carbon dioxide emissions, annually for the next 40 or more years. The deal also leaves Michigan with a number of aging dirty coal plants, including up to seven units that lack scrubbers to control sulfur dioxide or bag houses to limit particulate matter emissions, and up to four units that lack nitrogen oxide controls.

“Consumers Energy is playing a shell game with the health and future of Michigan families at a time when it should come clean and build a clean energy future,” said Shannon Fisk of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Michigan will still pay a high price because of the many dirty coal plants that will remain in place. Consumers’ continued pursuit of the dirty coal energy of the past will saddle Michigan families with higher health costs and energy bills for generations to come.”

The groups called for investments in clean energy, which is one of the few bright spots in the tough economy. Clean energy investments are already creating thousands of jobs in Michigan today, and will create up to 42,000 jobs in Michigan and as many as 1.9 million jobs nationally by 2020, according to an October 2009 study by researchers at the University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California-Berkley. In addition, these investments would increase annual household income in Michigan by $667 to $750 per year and boost GDP by $2 billion to $2.4 billion, the study says. Other studies have also shown that clean energy creates jobs at a faster rate than coal.

“Michigan had an opportunity to create clean energy jobs instead of joining the coal rush to an economic dead-end,” said Susan Harley of Clean Water Action. “Study after study shows that clean Michigan energy creates good-paying Michigan jobs at a faster rate and over a longer period of time. Michigan citizens deserve more 21st century jobs, not more job-killing coal plants.”

Resource: See the Natural Resources Defense Council Fact Sheet "The Proposed ConsumersCoal Plant: An Unnecessary Economic and Public Health Risk" January 2010 (http://www.michigan.sierraclub.org/pdfs/Consumers-FactSheet_Jan2010.pdf)
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