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E-M:/ News Release: Overhaul Grid System
- Subject: E-M:/ News Release: Overhaul Grid System
- From: David Holtz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2003 14:26:13 -0400
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Organization: Michigan Environmental Council
- Reply-To: David Holtz <email@example.com>
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Friday, August 15,
2003 Lana Pollack or
Urged On Energy Vulnerability
group calls for overhaul of grid system
The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), representing 65 Michigan organizations,
today urged government officials to enact strong measures—including decentralizing
the grid system—that would reduce the state’s vulnerability to massive power
“While we don't yet know the exact cause of the recent blackout, we do know
that the problem was able to spread so quickly and widely because of an antiquated
electricity transmission system,” said Lana Pollack, MEC President. “The
present system is unreliable and leaves us vulnerable to power disruptions,
no matter what the cause.”
Pollack, and MEC energy expert David Gard, said the following actions need
to be taken to reduce our vulnerability to power outages:
· Modernize the electricity transmission grid and fix bottlenecks where
· Reduce strain on the electricity grid though energy efficiency measures.
For example, reinstate higher efficiency air conditioner standards that were
recently overturned by the Bush administration; and
· Increase grid access for alternative power that is not as dependent
on long-distance grid distribution, such as solar, wind and hydrogen fuel
cells, and adopt new federal rules that allow such decentralized alternative
power access to the electricity grid.
“Thomas Edison envisioned a robust electricity system made up of smaller,
distributed generating stations,” said Gard. “We need to recapture Mr. Edison’s
Building more decentralization into our grid by moving toward smaller, more
dispersed sources of power would improve reliability by limiting the impact
of a disruption to any single source, Gard said. Having relatively few large
plants makes matters worse during a power outage. Each one can take thousands
of Megawatts off the system when it trips offline.
A more decentralized power grid can have important environmental co-benefits
in addition to obvious drivers such as public safety and economic security,
said Pollack. Among the benefits:
· Greater efficiency from Combined Heating and Power (CHP), which uses
waste heat from power generation for space heating and cooling. By contrast,
large centralized power plants discharge waste heat into lakes and rivers.
· Zero pollution from renewable power such as wind turbines, rooftop solar
panels, and biomass combustion. In addition to being clean, these decentralized
sources are not vulnerable to disruptions in fuel supply.
That Promote A Decentralized Power System
Net metering: Allows owners of small generating systems to sell excess
power back into the grid at market rates. This mechanism removes the financial
barrier to build and operate these systems.
It is analgous to establishing a farmers market where people can sell excess
produce to the benefit of the farmer and the consumer. There are currently
two identical net metering bills before the Michigan House of Representatives
(HB 4015 and HB4090).
Renewable Electricity Standard (RES): Requires public utilities to
supply a portion of power from sources like wind, solar and biomass. This
helps even the playing field for renewables, which must compete against heavily
subsidized coal and nuclear power. The U.S. Senate included a RES provision
in last year’s energy bill. Also, thirteen states including then Governor
Bush’s Texas, have instituted RES.
When overall demand for electricity approaches generating capacity, such
as on a hot summer day, even minor disruptions can cause huge cascading shutdowns.
This occurs because sensitive equipment automatically trips offline to avoid
damage, much like a household circuit breaker opens when appliances draw
too much power. Reducing demand makes this event less likely. Therefore,
grid reliability can be improved by investing in more efficient buildings,
equipment and appliances. Energy efficiency also happens to be the most
cost-effective way to reduce load on the grid.
Policies that promote Energy
System benefit charge: Michigan had this at one time and it should
be reinstituted. It enables utilities to fund demand-side management programs
for a negligible charge on electricity bills.
State revolving fund: Governor Granholm should establish a revolving
fund to pay for efficiency projects throughout thousands of public facilities
statewide. Financial returns on these projects tend to be high, so the fund
would be kept solvent.
Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS): This novel funding mechanism taps market forces
to pay for efficiency projects by linking investors to the high returns delivered
by these improvements.
Communications & Development Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912