[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Alternative/renewable energy in Michigan ...

Enviro-Mich message from Lowell Prag <lprag@mail.msen.com>

Hello Chuck,

Per your post below, we need many more such information meetings that you
held recently at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute on alternative/renewable

My main observation would be that photovoltaics and windpower to generate
electricity for private homes, are still too expensive for many people
whose homes are not very energy efficient to begin with and for those
people, the cost needs to get down to around $1/watt to be competitive
with coal and natural gas fired electricity in Michigan.

In short, for homes that are not energy efficient, the present
installation cost of these alternative/renewable energy sources, 
requires a long payback period of 10-20 years.

In this regards, you mentioned that Tom Stanton is involved in raising
Michigan's building codes. I would like to know more on that because if
you can increase the energy efficiency of building structures, you lessen
the load that alternative/renewable systems are expected to carry and
hence, you lower the costs of installing those systems.

With r60 roofs, r40 walls, r20 foundations, and high r windows, you
will achieve about a 90% reduction in heating loads in Michigan and such
superinsulation only adds about 10% to the renovation or new building
costs. Translated to cost savings in Michigan, your total yearly heating
bill will be about $0.05/ft2. 

For a 2,000 ft2 home, that equals: 2,000 x $0.05 = $100/year 
for the total heating bill using natural gas in Michigan.

With that type of efficency, the installation costs for the on-site
renewable/alternative power is greatly reduced and you can easily switch
to electric heating using your own electricity or use passive solar gains,
solar hot water heaters, etc. in a hydronic system to heat the home and
have practically no heat bill at all.

If you use the latter hydronic heating approach, you then have most all of
your own electricity for use to run your electric appliances and for
backup power, you can either use a grid connection or your own generator.

In this regards, you sent Tom Stanton a post for me awhile back on getting
the documentation on the MPSC ruling allowing utilities to charge more for
grid backup power. I haven't received it yet and getting this ruling
changed is a necessity, as it is counterproductive for the installation of
alternative/renewable energies in Michigan.

We also need more education on the use of private sector performance
contracting where the energy savings are used to pay for the

Michigan does have a government performance contracting division in
Lansing, but it is only used presently for awarding contracts for
government buildings. There should be a push to get it expanded to also
assist the private sector, as it did many years ago before they trashed
the program.

Last, why don't we have a government buydown in Michigan, like California,
where home owners can save 50% on the cost of the alternative/renewable
energy installations? Here's a description of the program in California:

California's Renewable Energy Buydown Program

Lowell Prag

On Sat, 25 Jan 2003 Cubbagec@aol.com wrote:

> Lowell & Friends,
> I remember back in the 60s when recycling was just getting a good start, that 
> folks were saying it would take decades for communities to get programs in 
> place.  As I recall, it took about 5 years for most of us to have some level 
> of service.  Point is that I am hearing a lot of the same rhetoric regarding 
> renewable/alternative energy today.  
> The alternative energy issue is being addressed on multiple fronts in Mich 
> right now and I am betting we will be well down the road to better policies 
> and technology implementation in the next 5 years.  
> Today there was a well attended conference on Renewable Energy at the Pierce 
> Cedar Creek Insititute just S of Hastings.  Kudos to Tom Huber S Mich College 
> and Bob Brown (retired science teacher Hastings, MI) for their initiative in 
> developing and implementing the conference.  
> Over 150 attended (not bad for a Sat in Mich with our weather!).  Keynote 
> speaker was Rich Vanderveen, Pres and CEO of Bay Wind Power, followed by John 
> Sarver, Mich Energy Office and others including Mi vendors of wind, solar 
> thermal and photovoltaic equipment.  Toyota had its hybred car there for 
> rides.  Exotic double glazed heat exchange tubes were making hot water 
> outdoors today!! on a trailer setup.  Not bad given the limited sunshine.  
> Wind generation hands on equipment and installation presentation; a home near 
> Hastings that is warmed from now til mid March by last summer's heat was 
> discussed;  Examples of working energy star homes & commercial buildings and 
> products (available now in Mich).  John Hudson, Urban Options Director was 
> there along with other experts (even a vendor from Calif came to the conf).  
> My apologies to the rest of the excellent presenters who I have not named - 
> they were all great.  
> The Pierce Cedar Creek Insititute is located just S of Hastings on roughly a 
> square mile of hilly land and is dedicated to environmental and ecological 
> education.  Impressively it is heated by geothermal technology.
> Hot issues include the need for improvements in Mich building energy 
> standards and as we all know the net-metering question.  Tom Stanton, just 
> advised me that we can expect changes on that front are on the way.  We look 
> forward to specifics. 
> Regards,
> Chuck

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"