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Op-Ed: Clean energy vital for lakes

Proposal 3 offers rare opportunity for Michigan voters

Power to Change | September 18, 2012 | By Stanley "Skip" Pruss

About the Author


Stanley "Skip" Pruss is the former director of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and Michigan's former Chief Energy Officer. He is currently a principal at 5 Lakes Energy LLC, a clean energy technology consulting firm. He lives in Northport.
 

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Time for Lansing to Catch, Not Ignore, the New-Tech Energy Wave

Clean Energy | March 26, 2015 | By Skip Pruss, of 5 Lakes Energy, and Jim Dulzo

We’ll always need a rock-solid, unshakably constant supply of power. But today there are other ways to do that besides merely burning more fossil fuel.
New distributed energy technologies, new grid control systems, and new demand-side energy services should be part of what has been an under-informed, truncated conversation about meeting Michigan’s future electricity needs....

On Nov. 6, voters will determine whether Michigan takes full advantage of a rare, golden opportunity to secure new investment, build new infrastructure, create jobs and enhance health and the environment for its citizens.

Proposal 3, aka "25 x 25," would increase Michigan's clean energy standard to require that 25 percent of our electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2025.

Investment in clean energy technology makes sense for Michigan for many reasons. Here are just a few:

► First, our coal plants are among the country's oldest and many will soon need to close. Proposal 3 would allow us to replace old coal gradually with the cheapest new source of electricity available — wind energy. The Michigan Public Service Commission determined that onshore wind turbines produce energy at about one half the cost of a new coal plant. And while the costs of fossil fuels are increasing and volatile, "fuel-less" renewable energy technologies have long-term, predictable, fixed costs that protect us against that volatility.

► Second, clean energy technology is a trillion-dollar market with investment that is skyrocketing. Since April 2012, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America announced $120 billion of new investment in clean energy. Last year marked the first time investment in renewables exceeded global investment in coal and nuclear plants combined.

►Third, manufacturing clean energy technology hits our sweet spot. No one can compete with our strengths in advanced manufacturing, engineering and materials science, or our manufacturing-related research and development capacity. Michigan recently led all states in clean energy technology patents, fueling future opportunities as Michigan companies commercialize clean energy intellectual property.

If we allow ourselves to fall behind, Michigan risks surrendering market opportunities to other states and countries. Twenty states already have renewable energy standards of 20 percent or more and four have standards ranging from 30 percent to 50 percent. Sixteen other states have either enhanced or accelerated their renewable energy standards because they clearly see the benefits of clean energy development.

The number of states that derive 10 percent or more of their electricity from renewable energy doubled in the last year alone.

Clean energy should be of special concern to the people of northwest Lower Michigan. Our reliance on old energy generation comes with costs. More than half the man-made mercury deposited in our Great Lakes comes from coal-fired plants; bacterial action transforms that mercury into the more-dangerous methyl-mercury — a potent, bioaccumulating neurotoxin.

Perhaps because we have lived with that threat for so long, we don't fully appreciate that the fish advisories covering all our lakes not only concern our health, they limit the full economic benefits we could enjoy from our recreational and commercial fisheries.

We can do better. 

With our manufacturing strengths, our tremendous research universities, the training capacity of our community colleges, and our ready and able workforce, we can fully capture the enormous benefits that clean energy brings while protecting the world's most magnificent natural resource endowment — our Great Lakes. 

Vote "yes" on Nov. 6.

*This article originally appeared in the Sept. 18 edition of the Traverse City Record-Eagle

12 Comments

1538 days ago, 8:28pm | by George Taylor | Report Comment

Why lock decisions that should remain flexible into the state Constitution? And why would any of this be necessary if wind electricity were actually competitive? Affordable electricity is important to Michigan's future. Even with massive federal subsidies, wind remains expensive. And it's all redundant. It can't replace any fossil-fired capacity, but instead requires all of the fossil-fired capacity to be kept in operation, permanently (or replaced by new fossil-fired capacity.)

1537 days ago, 8:32am | by Ridgewalker | Report Comment

How much would power from ‘king coal’ cost us without tax incentives and support?? How much would your groceries cost without tax incentives and support?? There’s not an industry out there that doesn’t benefit from either some form of subsidy or tax support. The subsidy issue is a red herring. On the other hand it’s not fair for the government to require the development of a certain industry without providing succinct guidelines in which to regulate and implement these enterprises. This is left to individual township governments to do and it’s wreaking havoc on no small number of formerly peaceful communities. Instead of rewinding the same old tired arguments against wind energy why not contact your government representation. Demand some guidelines on how we are supposed to address the problems that these enterprises cause local government.

1537 days ago, 8:39am | by Richard Kooyman | Report Comment

A professional consultant giving us advice on the value of the industry he profits from. Hmmm.

1537 days ago, 5:58pm | by Kevon Martis | Report Comment

"A professional consultant giving us advice on the value of the industry he profits from. Hmmm."

Are you referring to George Taylor or Skip Pruss?

1537 days ago, 7:36pm | by Kevon Martis | Report Comment

"How much would power from ‘king coal’ cost us without tax incentives and support?"

Coal fired energy production get's no support or incentives. The deductions they receive are equivalent to $0.0006/kWh. Wind on the other hand, in 2010, received $0.053/kWh. Thanks for asking this important question!

Now, about surrendering local zoning to the state. Do you recommend this for coal plants, gas plants and nuclear plants as well? Mobile homes? CAFO's? Fracking? Or just wind?

1537 days ago, 9:44pm | by Dubious | Report Comment

Follow the tax incentive trail from the first mountaintop blasted away, the trains that haul it, the power plants and everywhere in between that make coal artificially cheap. Factor in the horrendous environmental damage both in the extraction of this fuel from the earth and in the aftereffects of burning it. Factor too the regulatory cost that burdens the taxpayers and you have a poor excuse for a bargain. What makes coal, nuclear and even gas powered generation plants so acceptable to some is that people don’t have to see them, and in this they don’t tend to consider the disadvantages and costs of these forms of electrical generation.
And Kevon, Ridgewalker didn’t mention anything about “surrendering” local control. The issue raised is if the government is going to mandate something, it’s negligent to not provide guidelines for its implementation. The state and federal government regulates and oversees other industries; why it doesn’t seem to have the will to do so with wind energy is a puzzlement for many of us struggling with this issue at the local level.

1537 days ago, 9:54pm | by stondeez | Report Comment

Heres a quote from good ol' Skip,
when he was brought in by "BIG NUCLEAR" Exelon (whom have since been kicked out of the AWEA for lobbying against the PTC), to sell renewable energy in Lenawee County, Mi., back in March 8, 2011.

This quote comes the Daily Telegram in Lenawee County,


"The economic benefits of the project were discussed by Stanley “Skip” Pruss, former director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. Pruss said renewable energy has great potential."

“This is a $10 billion industry that is ideally suited for Michigan. We have a great number of high-tech people and engineers in this state,” he said. “Michigan is the No. 1 state in the nation in terms of renewable energy production. We have the ability to build better turbines of higher quality with lower costs.”

so if

"Michigan is the No. 1 state in the nation in terms of renewable energy production"

Why do we need 25 x 25 ?

As we say out here in the country

He who pays (Exelon,MIjobs,etc...) the fiddler (Good Ol' Skip and friends), gets to pick the tune

Isnt it against the MLUI oath to be a shill for big nuclear companies?

Nuff' Sed

1537 days ago, 11:21pm | by Kevon Martis | Report Comment

"Follow the tax incentive trail from the first mountaintop blasted away, the trains that haul it, the power plants and everywhere in between that make coal artificially cheap. Factor in the horrendous environmental damage both in the extraction of this fuel from the earth and in the aftereffects of burning it. Factor too the regulatory cost that burdens the taxpayers and you have a poor excuse for a bargain. What makes coal, nuclear and even gas powered generation plants so acceptable to some is that people don’t have to see them, and in this they don’t tend to consider the disadvantages and costs of these forms of electrical generation. "

Not even Doug Jester of the 25x25 campaign believes wind will be able to displace coal fired power plants. What evidence do you have that he is wrong?

1533 days ago, 1:30pm | by ridgewalker | Report Comment

Kevon
You know that wind energy was never portrayed as an avenue to totally displace coal or anything else. Renewables are an adjunct…another piece of the energy production mix.

1531 days ago, 8:11am | by Ella | Report Comment

"Michigan is the No. 1 state in the nation in terms of renewable energy production"

I'll beg to differ on this ludicrous statement.

The truth is :Michigan is the #3 best agriculture land on the entire Earth. Michigan is surrounded by the Largest Bodies of fresh surface water on The EARTH, and that's 21%....... think about that for just a moment..........21% of fresh water on the planet.

Michigan is rated as low to barely moderate through out the whole state as far as wind capacity.
But what do I know, I'm just a dumb rural resident, getting ready to be basically killed by the wind industry when the health effects of my so called neighbors errect a windturbine in my back yard and kill me by the way of elevated high blood pressure from infra-sound. I can't wait.

1402 days ago, 7:41am | by Marrianne | Report Comment

Lets see how they will work with this concern.


Regards,
<a href="http://www.biogas2.com/" rel="dofollow">manure to energy</a>

1402 days ago, 7:42am | by Marrianne | Report Comment

Lets see how they will work with this concern.


Regards,
[url=http://www.biogas2.com/]anaerobic digester[/url]

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