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E-M:/ MEC/MUCC Connors Creek info. piece


By Michigan Environmental Council and Michigan United Conservation Clubs


This summer, Edison is planning to restart the Connors Creek plant,
located in the city of Detroit on the Detroit River.  This coal-burning
power plant is almost 50 years old and has been mothballed, or kept in
reserve without operating, for a decade.  Instead of pursuing its own
long-term strategy over the past few years to reduce demand, switch
fuels, and allow customers to purchase power directly from other
providers, the utility has opted to refurbish this old coal plant.  

On April 24, 1998, the Detroit Edison Company (Edison) filed its plan to
the Public Service Commission (PSC) on how it will meet additional
electric capacity needs this summer and in the future.  In its April 14
order, the PSC concluded that Edison has a need for additional capacity
in 1998 and in future years and also granted the utilityís request for a
waiver to restart its mothballed Connors Creek power plant. 


Detroit Edison does not plan to upgrade Connors Creek with modern
pollution control equipment, because the stricter emission standards
required of new coal plants under federal law are not required of this
grandfathered unit.  Because of this loophole in the law, Connors Creek
and other old, coal-burning power plants are able to pollute at
significantly higher rates than new coal plants. 

According to Wayne County, Edison has not made modification for
pollution control on this plant since 1978.  If the automobile industry
cannot build cars with 1978 emissions technology, why should Detroit
Edison get to spew out huge amounts of soot, smog-forming nitrogen
oxides, and carbon dioxide because its using 1978 technology?  The 1993
PSC Staff report on Edisonís Integrated Resource Plan  suggests that
this and other previously mothballed units could be assumed to operate
for 20 years following restart.  

In light of these facts, the renewed operation of this plant would
contribute to environmental and health problems, such as increased:
mercury exposure to fish, wildlife and ultimately to humans; nitrogen
oxide emissions, a key component of ozone smog; visibility-reducing
haze; severity and incidences of asthma attacks and other respiratory
diseases; carbon dioxide emissions, a major greenhouse gas; and emission
impacts on downwind communities in Michigan, as well as those in
neighboring states and Ontario.  				


At least since 1995, forecasts have shown Edison needs additional
capacity for this summer and in the future.  Curiously, Detroit Edison
waited until March 31, 1998 to file its request to the PSC for a waiver
to restart the Connors Creek plant.  Business and consumer critics
believe the utility waited until the 11th hour to file to take unfair
advantage of the threat of possible blackouts this summer and provide
rationale for putting Connors Creek on line instead of using competitive
bidding, demand reduction measures, or allowing customers to purchase
power directly from other providers.  

Not surprisingly, PSC Staff warned Edison several years ago of its need
for additional capacity by 1998 and beyond.  This took place through the
Integrated Resource Planning process, which has since been indefinitely
suspended by the PSC due to "regulatory uncertainty" created by
discussions of deregulating electric utilities.  The Staff recommended
that Edison pursue demand-side management (DSM) options, such as utility
programs to improve energy efficiency of buildings, lighting and air
conditioning systems, and industrial motors.  Such a path of pursuing
energy efficiency could have eliminated the need for restarting this old
coal plant, thereby preventing the associated pollution.  

In 1993, the Staff stated:  "A one-percent level of revenues investment
in DSM, for example, moves the restart of the three units (Marysville,
Connors Creek, and River Rouge) beyond 2000.  Edison initially assumed
that if a restart unit was not selected by 2000, it would not be
considered further."   In 1996, Edison eliminated its DSM programs,
despite the fact that independent evaluation reports document they were
highly cost-effective.  The Companyís 1994 and 1995 programs saved
electricity at a cost of 1.5 cents per kWh Ė far less than the cost of
other electricity supply options . 


Eliminating demand-side management programs and restarting this
mothballed plant without modern pollution controls flies in direct
opposition to the sentiment of overwhelming majorities of Michiganís
electric customers.  For instance, a 1996 survey sponsored by the PSC
revealed that 93% of Michigan residents surveyed felt their utility
company should offer energy conservation programs.  When asked to rate
seven different options for where a utility should spend more money,
energy efficiency programs ranked a close second (83% support) to
"controls to reduce air and water pollution" (86% support).  


The Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity (ABATE) opposes
the requested waiver to restart the plant because of the excessive cost
to refurbish Connors Creek and the inefficient operation of the plant. 
In 1993, PSC Staff pointed out risks involved in restarting these
mothballed plants, including the possibility of larger than expected
investment and maintenance costs and lower levels of availability due to
the advanced age as well as potential future environmental costs.  These
costs under the proposed utility deregulation could potentially be
"stranded" at the expense of ratepayers.			


Michigan customers and the environment are now being held hostage in
this situation, which could have been forestalled or avoided
altogether.  It is incumbent on state and federal policy makers to
provide adequate controls on these grandfathered power plants, invest in
energy efficiency and renewable resources, and ensure Michiganís
customers arenít stuck with the bill from poor utility planning.  

For more information or comments, please contact:
	 Sally Billups
	 Michigan Clean Power Campaign 
	 c/o Michigan Environmental Council 
	 (517) 487-9539 

	Julie Metty, Resource Policy Specialist 
	Michigan United Conservation Clubs
	(517) 371-1041

Note: the attached file includes footnotes for documentation purposes