Nov. 24 2010 12:00 AM

As BWL sees it

The Nov. 17 City Pulse article, “Hold back the ash”, left out some significant details about the Lansing Board of Water & Light’s land remediation project in North Lansing.

It’s true that we do own a site where coal ash had been deposited until the 1970s.

However, I want to underscore a couple of important points. The coal ash is being proactively excavated and hauled away to a licensed landfill. As the article correctly noted, we are more than halfway through the voluntary removal of all the coal ash from the site.

The BWL is remediating this property with the full cooperation of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment. I believe we are far ahead of many other utilities nationwide, which have not acted as proactively, or as promptly and progressively, to dispose of coal ash in an environmentally responsible manner. The Sierra Club’s new coal ash hotline is evidence that the BWL is well ahead of the curve.

The BWL has been, and continues to be, a leader among utilities in environmental stewardship. A few examples:

• Our lead line replacement program – now 75 percent complete – is precedentsetting. The BWL is doing as much, if not more, to replace lead water lines than any other community in the United States.

• We were the first utility in Michigan to have a policy that spells out specific goals for acquiring renewable energy.

• We were the first utility in the state to have programs that incentivize customers to become more energy-efficient.

• Our proposed cogeneration facility in Reo Town will be fueled by natural gas. That translates into burning 139,000 fewer tons of coal each year compared to an existing, coal-fired steam production plant.

The ongoing coal ash removal and land remediation project is just the most recent, tangible evidence that the BWL is true to its mission of responsible and progressive environmental stewardship.

— J. Peter Lark, General Manager, Lansing Board of Water & Light