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Re: E-M:/ FW: Go Green Power

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

The answer to why the BWL is looking into green power can be found on their
webpage at:

http://www.lbwl.com/lbwlinternet/SafetyEnvironment.htm#green power

and is copied below.

     BWL asks for green power proposals

The BWL has invited interested companies to submit proposals for supplying
BWL customers with electricity from renewable energy. Itís the first step
that could lead to a green power energy option for BWL customers.

The energy would be marketed to customers willing to pay for the extra cost
of producing electricity from renewable resources such as wind or solar
power. The Request for Proposals, or RFP, commits the BWL to purchase
between 25 megawatt-hours (MWhs) and 750 MWhs per month, or enough to serve
between 45 and 1,300 residential customers with all their electricity
needs. The BWL will consider purchasing up to 3,750 MWhs per month, or
enough to serve nearly 7,000 customers with green energy.

The proposal includes the following forms of green power for consideration:

Small hydroelectric projects, 


If you go to this web page you can follow a link to the request for
proposal that the BWL issued that has brought the process to this point.

While I appreciate Anne's concerns regarding using our forests as a fuel
resource for producing electricity, it is important to take a look at how
our utilities are currently producing electricity.  BWL, as was recently
pointed out in the Lansing State Journal uses coal to produce all of it's
electricity, and they are not "clean" as was pointed out by MEC.  Looking
at the entire cycle for coal is not pretty.  In West Virginia one current
method is to go in and blow off the tops of mountains and start digging.
When finished you try and re-build the mountain (now with slightly less
elevation) using the tailings and whatever remains, unless they've already
washed downstream (one of the recent issues of SIERRA had pictures of this
type of "mountain top removal" mine in West Virginia).  Plant some new
flora and fauna and find your next mountain to "develop."  The end result
is not an environmentally friendly activity.  As can be observed by
following what Senator Byrd was recently trying to add as a "rider" on the
budget bill.

The coal then gets delivered to the utilities by the rail car where it is
burned in plants built during the 1940's, '50's, '60's, and '70's.  These
plants, due to a loophole which BWL is using along with most other coal
plants in Michigan, are not required to meet the same environmental
standards as new plants (even ones that burn manure, biomass, natural gas,
or any other fuel).  Coal contains trace elements including arsenic,
mercury, and other metals, along with sulfur.  The metals wind up
bioaccumulating leading to fish consumption advisories and public health
problems.  The sulfur (even with the acid rain rule) goes up the stack, is
blown downwind until it comes down as acid rain.  If you look at the acid
measurements of precepitition, you'll see that Michigan is on the western
edge where the acidification of precipitation begins.  Obviously it is a
more severe problem as one heads further east.

Coal-fired power plants are also the largest source of industrial nitrogen
oxide air pollution, this pollution contributes to acid rain and summertime
ozone smog.  These plants are just now having to make modifications, or buy
credits, to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) air pollution.  I believe BWL has
made investments in reducing their NOx air pollution.

Today, without any "green power" options, customer/owners of the BWL get
one type of electricity -- electricity that is produced by burning coal in
plants that are grandfathered out of having to meet the more stringent
requirements of the clean air act.  With a "green power" option, you may
not get the flavor of renewable you want individually, but is the green
power option better than the status quo?  BWL will be answering that
question for all of their customer/owners tomorrow night. 

While Anne has raised many good policy questions, the public hearing at BWL
tomorrow is to discuss what green power options, if any, BWL will be
offering to their customer/owners.  It is important that the
customer/owners of BWL tell management that they want the "greenest" power
they can buy (of the options offered by BWL in my opinion the greenest is
wind).  As a municipal utility, BWL is owned by you the "customer/owners."
A sister muni, in Sacramento, California voted to shut down their nuclear
reactor and replace it with more benign sources of electricity.  They did
that in the late 1980's.  Even after shutting down the nuke plant, their
rates were cheaper than the investor owned utilities that served
neighboring communities.  Take control, get what you want -- I wish I was a

David Wright

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