Momentum builds for a regional energy plan
Local energy planning presents major economic opportunity
Energy Plan, Garforth, Efficiency | December 13, 2012 | By Brian Beauchamp
About the Author
- Kenneth A.,: "Clean Energy" is Progressive Double Speak for taxpayer subsidized National Socialists pandering in the Lansing bubble for reams of OUR private wealth by statutory decree. The Federal Energy Securi...
- Christine Pardee: Michigan needs to be a leader in clean energy policy based on factual information. As we rebuild our economy. let our growth be based on energy policy that will be good for our future! ...
- Mike Tiedeck: A free market conservative culture embraces "creative destruction". This means that old, inefficient, polluting industries and power systems are inevitably doomed. Our state can be a leader in energ...
- Rob DeLay: Green roof projects for Michigan must include opportunities for individual homeowners,not just multi-home landholders. In particular, benefits and loan opps for farmers should be a high priority. Just...
- Sad but True: This gas plant in Holland is a good thing, but it is also should be a reminder that energy is complicated and requires a mix of generation assets. The real sad thing is that we as a country allowed t...
|Last week, energy expert Peter Garforth laid out the opportunities for creating a regional energy plan that could save the Traverse City region millions if done right.|
The 88,000 people in Grand Traverse County spend $306 million a year on energy. Of those millions, 70 percent leaves the community—a huge tax and a drain on the people and the economy of the region.
But what if we dedicated ourselves to making sure more of that money stays in the region? What if we embarked on a deliberate plan to cut back on those energy costs, capture the energy that’s being wasted, and invest in new energy sources locally?
Those were the questions asked last week by Peter Garforth, internationally-renowned energy expert and consultant, at a half-day workshop attended by dozens of community leaders. Businessmen and women, government officials and nonprofit advocates all gathered to hear Garforth lay out the opportunities for creating a regional energy plan that could save the Traverse City region millions if done right.
It was a return visit for Garforth, who came to Traverse City last June for an Energy Efficiency Summit. His speech that day rallied support and sparked discussions for a new strategy to rein in energy costs, and ultimately, to create jobs in the region.
MLUI didn’t want to lose the momentum generated in June, and worked for the past six months to bring together community leaders interested in making a regional energy plan a reality. Working with the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce, MLUI convened a small working group in October and members decided to bring Garforth back up to elaborate on the opportunities in the region.
During his talk last week, Garforth reiterated what can be done by showing off examples from cities around the world that implemented their own energy plans. Copenhagen, Denmark not only cut down greenhouse gas emissions significantly, they also lead the world in building efficiency and are a global economic powerhouse. In Guelph, Ontario, a community energy plan created more than 2,000 green jobs and the city now has the lowest unemployment in the country. And even here in Michigan, where leaders in Holland just adopted their own regional energy plan that will prioritize energy efficiency and generate revenues for the local community.
But is it doable in northern Michigan? We’re not a world capital (in anything but cherries, that is). We don’t have the industrial infrastructure like our neighbors down in Holland. And we have our own history with contentious energy issues, like wind power and biomass.
Garforth’s answer: Yes, it’s doable, but it will require strong leadership in the community, and early engagement of skeptics who might question the benefits of such a plan. And half-steps aren’t enough—either set a high bar and get it done, or don’t bother.
Energy efficiency is the first step. Energy not used is always the cheapest, and energy not used is always the cleanest, Garforth says. Nearly 70 percent of our electricity is wasted through heat conversion alone. What if we captured that heat and used it to keep our homes and businesses warm rather than costly propane or natural gas?
Last week’s discussion ended with a broad question: Do we want to pursue this? And the response was nearly universal. It’s not a question of whether we need a regional energy plan, it’s a question of how soon we can start.
Well, there’s no time like the present. Why not get going as soon as possible?
Like heat and electricity, the energy behind this is too important to be wasted.
1562 days ago, 4:53pm | by David R. Snyder | Report Comment
Traverse City tore out the Boardman Dam to disastrous results, but there are still two dams remaining. Falling Waters LLC can reclaim these dams put them to work again and generate the "cleanest, greenest" renewable energy known to man, and retain the goodwill of the property owners on the dam ponds.
1533 days ago, 9:04am | by Kimberly Pontius | Report Comment
Garforth's presentation was very informative and clearly shows that recapturing some of the "lost" energy and heat that results from inefficient generation and transmission would clearly change our current policy from one of building more capacity to one of making better use of what we already produce through waste control and efficiency programs. Thousands of jobs could be created by designing, manufacturing, and installing systems and components that would fulfill this goal.