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Re: E-M:/ Public Service Commission Concerned about Michigan Overloading! -Reply

Enviro-Mich message from David Wright <wrightd@voyager.net>


	I'm not really sure why you stuck your nose in this, but I'll bite and
respond.  My comments are placed in the body of your note.   

>Just to stick my nose a centimeter into this debate/discussion:
>Most larger companies that plan to stay in business for a while know way
more about >energy efficiency than just about anyone on the planet,
including environmental >groups. 

I assume that this opening statement is meant to imply that Menasha (the
corporation for whom you do not represent in this forum) or larger
companies in general know more than my organization (an environmental
group, for whom I do speak) or me regarding energy efficiency.  Without
even knowing me or my organization I do not know how you can make such an
assertion.  In addition, whether or not we know more or less than "larger
companies" is not the issue.  The issue of my post was to point out the
hypocrisy of the Michigan Public Service Commission for gutting energy
efficiency programs and then issuing a press release asking us to reduce
our consumption.  Why not ask industry to take a "heat holiday" so I can
enjoy my air conditioned comfort without fear of creating a "blackout"?  
>For example, at my plant, we talk, each month at our P and L meetings;
many times each >year at our budget planning meetings; at our long term
strategic meetings, etc., about >energy efficiency (as well as raw
materials efficiency, labor efficiency, etc etc >etc). We know to the penny
what our costs are each month, and in most cases, can >pinpoint on a daily
basis when one of them is going up or down, and what to do about >it. We
know what the settings are to maximize efficiency within a certain process
>capability. We also know, given what is out on the market, or likely to be
foisted on >the market in future, what buying new equipment and process
capability might >strategically do to improve efficiency. 
>It is a simple equation. New technology + better operating procedures +
better trained >people = better efficiency + lower costs = long term
survival. Q.E.D.
Again, I'm not sure how this point relates to my original post (Michigan
needs to promote energy efficiency to ensure the lights don't go out during
the heat of the summer and reduce pollution), other than to let enviro-mich
subscribers know that the company for which you work is doing an excellent
job of planning and is in business for the long haul.  

Other firms, however, might not be in the same position as Menasha or other
"larger companies."  For example, in a 1996 survey of Michigan commercial
and industrial businesses ("Final Report Michigan Commercial and Industrial
Energy Efficiency Survey, prepared for Michigan Public Service Commission,
May 20, 1996) 75% of the firms surveyed (the survey has an error of +/- 5%)
believe that most companies would like to have more information on how to
save energy in their operations.  In addition, 50% of the companies
surveyed spend NO TIME researching methods for improving the efficiency of
their operations.  
>For example, we spent a paltry $30 Million dollars a few years ago to
close down our >older coal fired steam and electricity plant, and open a
new state of the art gas >turbine system. Now it does not make sense to
spend $30 MM a year each time some >slightly new marginally improved
technology comes out, but as it is possible, it makes >a lot of sense over
time. We cut emissions vastly, and got much more efficient >production of
steam and electricity. We also bought the ability to make 20 meg a day >of
our own power, which makes us considerably less likely to be held hostage
by the >waves of change going on in the subsidized power industry.
It is good that firms like Menasha which have the financial resources to
produce their own electricity are investing in cleaner sources of
electricity production.  I applaud Menasha for making this investment.  So,
when the grid goes down your business will continue to operate.  What about
the rest of us?  When the heat index is 105 having air conditioning for
many individuals is a life or death issue.  How many people have already
died from heat stroke in just this past week?  Think how many more would
perish if we had blackouts.  And even with this possiblity, Michigan is
risking a blackout because we are unwilling to promote energy efficiency.
So, instead of taking the lead to ensure this will not happen, the PSC
issues a press release asking us to please turn up our thermostats....
>One thing I will disagree with A.Friend on is that, yes, a large part of
the pie is >one of industrial efficiency (manufacturing as well as the
power industry), however, >just as with cars and water pollution, the
general publics behavior  is a VERY LARGE >part of the pie, and educating
and expecting energy efficiency from Joe Q Public is >not only the right
thing to do, but if it is not done, is utter hypocrisy on the part >of the
Interesting.  Large and small businesses (commercial and industrial)
consume over two-thirds of the pie.  The public (residential consumers)
consumes one-third of the pie.

All sectors can do more, including the industrial sector, for whom I
believe you were speaking when you sent this note.  Creating opportunities
for all segments including "the public" and "larger companies" is the right
thing to do.  Your claim of attending meetings where efficiency is
discussed does not demonstrate that further gains cannot be achieved from
"larger companies."  

So, let's look at the pie.  For the sake of this debate I am assuming "the
public" is residential electricity consumers (which by the way includes
you).  Michigan residential electricity consumers bought 29,879,000,000
kilowatt-hours of electricity in 1998.  Michigan's total electricity sales
were 100,266,000,000 kilowatt-hours (Source:
http://ermisweb.cis.state.mi.us/energy).  "The public" uses approximately
30% of Michigan's electricity.  Industrial firms bought 35,455,000,000 or
slightly more than 35%.  Commercial users purchased 34,067,000,000 kilowatt
hours or approximately 34%.  
>The lessons being learned through TMDL's are a refreshing breath of fresh
air, because >they understand the entirety of the picture - it's not just
industry, it's also the >million people living and building and fertilizing
lawns and driving cars and building >roads and planting crops and feeding
hogs.....that are all part of the problem - a >large part of the problem.
The issue is one of lifestyle - do we plan to ask the >utilities to produce
more energy to help satisfy our growing appetite, or do we find >how to
minimize our consumption? Each time we make a decision - in anything we do
- we >are taking something from the environment - its not free, there is a
decision to be >made and a consequence for every one of us - so then the
decision becomes - am I going >to do what least impacts the earth, or do I
not care? And that goes for industries, >utilities, as well as every Tom
Dick and Mary Jane out there.
>David Merkel
>~ please note these are my ideas and opinions and do not necessarily
represent those >of the Paperboard Division, Menasha Corporation~

Nice words, great vision.  Now, let's make it happen.  Implying that it's
being done by "larger companies" based on your attendance at meetings of
your company is inaccurate and short-sighted.  Much more can be done in all
sectors -- residential, commercial and industrial.  The Michigan Public
Service Commission has the responsibility for ensuring that Michigan has
adequate electricity supplies for all electricity consumers, large and
small.  The Commission needs to use that responsibility to ensure that
efficiency is a part of the electricity market.  Otherwise, we'll continue
to get "energy efficiency press releases" -- even after the industry is

As you appear interested and supportive of the idea of reducing
consumption, I encourage you and Menasha to take that ethic and further
apply it.  Join with us (the Michigan Environmental Council) as we look for
ways to ensure efficiency becomes a part of the electricity market.  I look
forward to hearing from you.

David Wright
Policy Specialist
Michigan Environmental Council
Member Association of Energy Engineers

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