Detroit Considers Streetlight Savings
With 139 square miles of land within the city limits, and 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, Detroit has 88,000 streetlights. To save $10 million a year the mayor has proposed borrowing $160 million to upgrade and reduce the number of streetlights to 46,000. Deciding which areas to illuminate and which to let go dark will reshape the city that has an estimated 37 square miles of vacant property and parks. Conventional wisdom is that state legislation is required to create the needed city lighting authority.
Wind Turbine Tax Assessment Confusion
The Michigan State Tax Commission has recommended that local authorities change the way they determine the taxable value of utility scale wind turbines for purposes of paying personal property taxes on this industrial property. However, townships in Gratiot County have continued to follow the old method in assessing wind turbine taxable value. DTE Energy has filed an appeal with the Michigan Tax Tribunal to get the issue resolved. Assessors in Huron County have also opted to assessed value based upon the prior methodology. Note that wind turbines are excluded from the pending legislation (passed by the Michigan Senate) to eliminate property taxes on industrial property.
DTE Energy on Track to Reduce Mercury Emissions
Federal emission standards for mercury will be effective in 2015. DTE Energy, which has the biggest coal-fired power plant in the Midwest (4th biggest in the nation and 2nd largest producer of mercury emissions among 144 plants in the Great Lakes region) in Monroe, has stated it will be in compliance with the new standards by the deadline. The project to reduce mercury emissions by 85-95 percent is already half done, with two of the four units retrofitted already. Similar projects are slated for DTE’s plants at Belle River and St. Clair.
Danotek Receives Funding to Boost Export Effort
Canton Township-based Danotek Motion Technologies has been approved for funding from Michigan’s new State Trade Export Promotion program. The funding, which is approved for one year with the potential of an extension up to three additional years, will assist the company in expanding its global exports. The federal government provides 65-75 percent of the program costs, and the State of Michigan supplies the remainder. The manufacturer of permanent magnet generators and fullpower converter systems already supplies wind turbine producers in Europe but is looking for other overseas opportunities.
Utility Scale Blades for World Market
Energetx Composites is building 45.3-meter blades under a 30-month contract with an unnamed wind turbine original equipment manufacturer. With this contract in hand, the Holland, Michigan company is investing $5 million in new machinery and hiring 50-60 new employees. In early June the company exported 11 molds it manufactured to Minano, Spain to be used by Aeroblade S.A. to produce the same blade in Europe. This shipment was made out of the Port of Muskegon to the Port of Bilbao in Spain. Assisting in the international shipment were Rockford Berge, Great Lakes Heavy Haul, and Gelock Heavy Movers.
Tea Candles Produce Electricity
Seeking crowd funding through Kickstarter.com, Tellurex Corporation of Traverse City is ready to complete the design, engineering, and tooling for its Tellurex tPOD1™ (thermoelectric Power On Demand). The tPOD1 is designed to convert the heat energy of the common tea candle to electricity in a thermoelectric semiconductor device, the size of soup can. The device can produce enough electricity for a LED light or a compatible battery pack. Target markets include backpackers, campers, and homes experiencing power outages (recharge cell phones to make an emergency call or send a text message). The company plans to begin production in July 2012. Most tea candles are made from natural and renewable resources such as palm oil and other plant sources.
Governor Undecided on Ballot Proposal
Governor Rick Snyder has not yet taken a formal position on the Michigan initiative to require Michigan to have 25 percent of its electric energy produced by renewable resources by 2025, which is expected to be on the ballot in November. He is quoted as stating “I’m not sure on the face of it that it makes a lot of sense.” Although his 2010 campaign website included a statement on global warming and a pledge to create green collar jobs in the state, he has yet to proclaim an energy policy for the state. He believes there is considerable uncertainty about how much energy can be produced costeffectively in Michigan from wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower.
ΩΩ Dow Corning Corp and Hemlock Semiconductor, major exporters of silicon-based materials, have announced their opposition to tariffs being imposed on solar products imported from China Ω Babcock & Wilcox have a $55 million contract to engineer environmental control equipment and a boiler economizer for the Consumers Energy Campbell plant near West Olive Ω Michigan Saves is enrolling energy auditors and installation contractors for the Michigan Saves Business Energy Financing program that has now gone statewide Ω DTE Energy and Invenergy have announced full commercial operations at the 212.8 MW Gratiot County Wind Project Ω The Alpena Biorefinery is expected to start commercial production in June of hardboard waste-to-cellulosic ethanol Ω General Electric has sold 137 of its 1.6 MW wind turbines to DTE Energy for its wind projects in Michigan ΩΩ
New Biodiesel Plant to Start Up This Summer
Northwest Michigan Biodiesel LLC of Traverse City will soon be in full production, with an initial feedstock of locally grown canola. The business plan is to first sell the canola oil to local restaurants. Then the company will buy back the used product to be processed into biodiesel fuel. The company is currently looking for a market for the glycerol by-product.
Minimize Casualties through Energy Security Measures
Recently I heard an air force general and a rear admiral talk about energy security for our overseas troops. Motivated by the fact that 10 percent of the casualties in the Iraq/Afghanistan theaters were related to fuel convoys (much of that fuel was for diesel generators), they described the aggressive alternative energy initiatives now being implemented by the military. Combat troops in Afghanistan have Ground Renewable Energy Networks, Solar Portable Alternative Communications Energy Systems (SPACES), LED lighting systems, Solar Shades, and Solar Light Trailers. The key “aha moment”? Use the on-location energy resources—wind and solar. If senior military commanders recognize that an overdependence on fossil fuels is a liability, and that renewable technologies provide true energy security, why is the same rationale not applicable stateside? Developing in-state renewable energy resources rather than buying, trucking, shipping, and piping in out-of-state resources needs to be a priority. We need to employ the lessons learned and technology developed by the military to improve the health, welfare, and security here at home. Let’s all salute the idea.© 2013 Varnum LLP