MPSC takes up PURPA, avoided costs
Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has adopted its own
orders that direct staff to assemble a workgroup tasked with
setting a new avoided cost rate structure under federal law.
The order directs the Energy Reliability Division to conduct a workgroup
on how Michigan should comply with the Public Utility Regulatory
Policy Act, a federal law known as "PURPA" that sets
terms for electricity sales from certain small power facilities,
such as biomass power plants. The workgroup report is due April 8,
Consumers Energy and DTE have PURPA power purchase agreements
with independent power producers.
The MPSC docket is U-17973 and includes a PURPA report prepared by MPSC staff.
“The current method Michigan uses to determine a utility’s avoided
cost rate ... under PURPA has been in place since the early
1980s. Conditions today are significantly different than those
faced in 1978 when PURPA became the law of the land,” MPSC Chairman
John Quackenbush said in a prepared statement.
Some of those contracts begin expiring at the end of the year.
“There is significant uncertainty over the future of these
contracts. Now is an appropriate time for a comprehensive
examination of PURPA and avoided cost issues," Quackenbush
Forestry summit held
More than 100 people
attended the Governor’s 2015 Forest Products Summit on the campus
of Michigan State University in October.
Dept. of Natural
Resources Director Keith Creagh was presented the Tubor Award for
outstanding contribution to forest resources, from the Michigan
Forest Products Council, then signed a master agreement with the
U.S. Forest Service to implement the Good Neighbor Authority; a
Farm Bill partnership with the state to aid in accomplishing
federal forest harvest and management plans. That arrangement will
expedite the harvest of nearly 9 million board feet of timber on
Michigan’s three national forests.
The agenda was heavy on
forest economics, including baseline data that will be used to mark
progress toward the goals of growing the forest economy, and market
economics to help identify where to focus those efforts.
Biomass energy was also on the agenda.
Michigan to file carbon plan with
Michigan Gov. Rick
Snyder has announced that Michigan will submit a state
implementation plan (SIP) under the Clean Power Plan, saying it’s
in the state's best interest to have its own plan rather than
comply with one developed by Washington, DC regulators.
environmental groups, manufacturers and independent power
producers, including Michigan Biomass, support the move.
Cobb power plant shutdown
Consumers Energy has
detailed its timeframe for the shutdown and demolition of the B.C.
Cobb coal-fired power plant in Muskegon.
The last shipment of coal is expected to be delivered in November.
The plant will cease
operations by April 2016, according to a report in MLive, and go “dark" by
June. An electrical switch station will be separated from the plant
and remain on the site. The rest of plant could be demolished by the
end of 2018.
Discussions are also
underway on how to best redevelop the site.
Utilities drops RE surcharge
Michigan Public Service Commission has approved a request from DTE
Energy to eliminate its renewable energy and energy efficiency
2008 statute that set the state’s renewable portfolio standards
allowed utilities to levy monthly surcharges on ratepayer bills to
fund the program ($3 month cap on residential ratepayers. The
falling cost of renewable energy systems, particularly wind, has
gradually whittled down the need for those charges.
Consumers Energy stopped its surcharge last year.
DTE announces closures
DTE Energy has announced it will mothball
210 megawatt (MW) of coal-fired capacity at its 730-MW Trenton
Channel Power Plant.
The closures will take place by 2016 and are
in response to the expectation of more stringent air emission
requirements from U.S. EPA.
Other units at Trenton Channel were shut
down previously. The 520-MW unit #9 will remain on line.
LBW&L eyes big solar
The Lansing Board of Water and Light (LBWL)
is seeking proposals for a 5 MW solar project, which would be more
than five times bigger than the current record holder — DTE
Energy’s 818 kW system.
LBWL currently has two systems totaling 553