On December 22nd, a powerful ice storm knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers, some for more than a week. Many people without electricity struggled get basic information and to get through to the municipally-owned power company to report outages. Some even took to social media to pick up the slack on their own. We’re not talking about the Lansing-area and Board of Water and Light. We’re talking about Toronto, which was hit by the same ice storm that wreaked havoc on us three weeks ago.
In most marketplaces, if customers are not happy with the product or service, they can look at competitors and choose another option. If Ford sells you a lemon, next time you go to buy a car, perhaps you’ll be looking at GM models, a Chrysler, or a foreign car. In the complex utility marketplace, however, things aren’t that simple.
About a month ago, U-S Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation asking about an Enbridge Company oil pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac. They asked for information on safety tests done on the pipeline, and for emergency response information from Enbridge.
The citizen board that oversees the embattled Lansing Board of Water and Light convened last night. The body heard from both the public as well as numerous BWL employees and leadership about the utility’s response to last month’s overwhelming ice storm that knocked out electric power to tens of thousands in the Lansing area.
A new conservative group is hoping to open up the conversation about renewable energy. The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is working to increase the state’s investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
Last week, Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing-based media advocacy organization, released a study suggesting that electric customers in several states that offer greater customer choice pay more for it. Some key backers of electric choice have blasted the study, calling the findings unsubstantiated.
Earlier this week we spoke with Michigan Public Service Commission Chair John Quakenbush about draft reports published to guide Michigan’s energy future. One of many of the issues addressed in the report was electric choice and the deregulation of utilities.
Environmentalists trying to get Michigan State University to curtail coal-generated power are announcing a new tactic today. The MSU Sierra Student Coalition is launching the MSU Fossil Free campaign. The effort is an attempt to get the university to divest millions of endowment dollars the coalition says are invested in the fossil fuel industry. Callie Bruley, an MSU student and a coordinator of MSU Beyond Coal, and Brad Van Guilder, who represents the Michigan Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal effort, discuss the MSU Fossil Free campaign.
The dependent relationship between energy and water is important, but in a water-rich state like Michigan, it’s easy to overlook. Skip Pruss discusses the water-energy nexus and its potential impact on the future of the Great Lakes. Pruss is a Principal at 5 Lakes Energy and former Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
What should Michigan’s long-range priorities be regarding energy? Governor Rick Snyder and other state officials want to know.
This Thursday afternoon in Lansing is the public’s first chance to make its voice heard at a forum being held at the State Library. Next December, the Governor plans to issue a comprehensive set of recommendations based in part on the forums.
Today on Current State, three guests with different perspectives discuss the energy issue.
Last week, Mayor Virg Bernero announced that a series of small wind turbines would be installed on the roofs of City Hall and the Lansing Center in June. Generating electrical power from wind energy is part of Michigan’s overall renewable energy strategy. But there’s some debate as to whether the urban core is the best laboratory in which to try it out.
The Michigan State University Board of Trustees faces a pivotal decision today. The board will decide whether to approve a strategic clean energy plan that would eventually transition the campus to 100 percent renewable energy. The plan calls for MSU to produce 15 percent of its energy from renewables in just three years.
The plan has been staunchly opposed by student environmental groups at MSU, who claim it’s not strong enough to effect any real change. They’re also critical of the fact that the vision does not include scrapping the university’s coal-fired power plant.