April 19 2018 11:03 AM

Time to ask hard questions of BWL

Opposition to the Board of Water and Light’s (BWL’s) plans to build a new gasfired power plant in Lansing appears to have fallen on deaf ears. The BWL Commission approved the bidding unanimously. The mayor doesn’t have any problems with BWL’s plans and the city council can’t stop it. So, unless things change during the bidding process, Lansing will soon be the proud owner of a new $500 million gas plant, expected to run for 30 years.

A baby born today will be grown with children of his or her own before we retire this plant. Do we really think that in 30 years, we’re still going to be cracking open the earth for natural gas (fracking)... at prices we can afford? (Note that the $500m is just for construction... that doesn’t include the fuel costs.)

In other places around the country, plans for natural gas plants are coming to a screeching halt. Arizona, not a bastion of tree-huggers, just placed a 9-month moratorium on building gas plants. Last June, Los Angeles backed away. Colorado is shifting to renewables and actually lowering people’s bills! DTE Energy, here in Michigan, is under intense scrutiny for proposing the same kind of gas plant.

Even the stolid New York Times just issued an opinion rather dreamily laying out the wonderful new possibilities of alternatives to fossil fuels. “In parts of the country, wind and solar plants built from scratch now offer the cheapest power available, even counting old coal, which was long seen as unbeatable.”

BWL should consider new energy technologies, while making use of some common cost-saving programs that avoid using power during peak times, help customers increase efficiency, and distribute energy generation across their service area to make the grid less vulnerable to outages.

Lansing residents should be concerned about this waste of money. Contact Lansing Mayor Schor and the City Council and ask them to appoint BWL Commissioners who are independent and willing to ask management the hard questions.

www.lansingenvironmentalactionteam.org for more.

REBECCA PAYNE, Lansing (Rebecca Payne is a member of the Lansing Environmental Action Team.)




Correction & Clarification

Because of an editing error, the telephone number of the Lansing Mayor’s Office in last week’s column by Mayor Andy Schor was printed incorrectly. The correct number is (517) 483-4141. Also, Mayor Schor said he misspoke in an article last week on efforts to collect the city income tax. Schor said he should have said: “When I was in the legislature, we tried to run a bill that required business owners outside of the city to collect income taxes from residents. Detroit wanted it, and they said it would be able to capture millions of dollars, and that went nowhere fast because the Chamber opposed it, because they didn’t want their members to have to collect that.”