April 12 2018 11:45 AM

A different roadmap for energy

Many thanks to the City Pulse for coverage on the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s proposed gas plant and the citizen push back. The BWL announced last December its plans to build another fracked gas plant, even bigger than the one in Reotown, part of a plan that will cost BWL customers $500 million. A group concerned about the environmental impact of this proposal organized into the Lansing Environmental Action Team (LEAT).

We question whether it is prudent for Lansing to build this large a facility when preferable and cleaner options are rapidly becoming more available and cheaper. Before committing ratepayers to more fossil fuel and centralized power plants for the next 30-50 years, the BWL has several options to reduce demand and institute energy strategies that look to the future, not business as usual.

At the BWL Commissioner meeting on March 27, LEAT submitted 10 proposals that have been recognized and implemented elsewhere with positive results. Here are a few examples.

(a) Instead of a single, large natural-gas plant, build multiple smaller, modular units, and add them overtime only when needed.

(b) The BWL should work with local groups to map out preferred areas for developing new energy technologies, including solar, wind, hydro, combined-heat-andpower, biomass, batteries, thermal storage, etc. For example, installing solar on schools or other buildings with large roof areas can result in huge savings.

(c) Mapping critical use facilities, like hospitals and first responder centers, and creating “microgrids” at these locations will protect against major grid outages, like natural disasters or cyberattacks.

(d) And of course, we need to keep exceeding the State’s minimum standard for 1% annual growth in the efficiency of our electric energy use. Promoting programs like Michigan Saves helps customers with low cost financing to make cost-saving efficiency upgrades.

LEAT believes there is time to consider and begin implementing these options well before the Lansing Errickson coal plant is scheduled to shut down in 7 years. We’re disappointed that the Board chose to act so quickly and without further study in the face of repeated citizen concern. We look forward to a response from the BWL Commissioners on our proposals. More information for interested citizens and BWL customers is available at lansingenvironmentalactionteam.org.

Carol Rall LEAT member