From:                              Michigan Biomass <information=michiganbiomass.com@mail64.atl11.rsgsv.net> on behalf of Michigan Biomass <information@michiganbiomass.com>

Sent:                               Tuesday, May 19, 2015 11:31 AM

To:                                   Gary

Subject:                          The Power of Wood Spring 2015

 

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MI legislature continues energy discussions

The Michigan Legislature is rounding the corner toward summer with many questions still remaining on comprehensive energy legislation. So far there are two legs to the stool with the third under development

In the house, Energy Policy Chairman Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) has conducted weeks of hearings on HB 4297 and HB 4298. The bills sunset renewable portfolio standards, eliminate mandated energy efficiency programs, and replaces them in an integrated resource plan (IRP) – a regulatory proceeding that requires regulated utilities to look at all options to building new generation and for meeting new and anticipated air quality standards. It also qualifies certain waste-to-energy projects as renewable under current statute.

In March Gov. Rich Snyder released his special message on energy, outlining his goals for a cleaner, more reliable and environmentally friendly energy future for Michigan. His plan is built on energy efficiency and balancing renewables and natural gas generation on a cost and performance basis.

This spring an energy workgroup assembled by senate Energy and Technology Committee Chairman Sen. Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) completed its work, helping the senator produce a framework for the Michigan Comprehensive Energy Plan that includes an IRP in place of RPS and energy efficiency mandates, and a “clean” energy standard built on a combined cycle natural gas generation emissions baseline.

Unlike the house bills, the senate framework and the governor’s plan would maintain Michigan’s 10% cap on open retail access, or “customer choice.”

 

The Power of Wood is published quarterly by Michigan Biomass, a coalition that advocates for, and is supported by, the state's wood-fired power plants. Send questions, comments and inquiries to information@michiganbiomass.com

Straits transmission bills out

Upper Peninsula Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) has introduced a bill to build transmission capacity to connect the upper and lower peninsulas.

SB 282 would establish a board to oversee electric infrastructure in the state, composed of members of the Public Service Commission, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Economic Development Corp., and one resident from each peninsula. It would be charged with ensuring electric reliability through construction of transmission aimed at reducing congestion and keeping electricity prices in check.

An inter-peninsula transmission line is being considered as an alternative to a transmission build out of Wisconsin. It would require construction of a sizeable power plant in the northern Lower to push that power north.


Lower Peninsula capacity unchanged

The Mid-continent Independent System Operator (MISO) conducted its annual capacity auction in April, with no change in pricing for Zone 7 – Michigan’s Lower Peninsula – at $16.75 a MW day.

It shows Zone 7 has 16% more export capacity (4571 MW) than import capacity (3884 MW).

The auction, for Michigan, is relatively unchanged over last year.


Model gives state gas, renewable economic guidelines

A model designed to help decision makers plan for future capacity has been crafted by a Lansing consulting firm and the University of Michigan.

5 Lakes Energy and U of M researchers have developed the State-based Carbon Rule Analysis for Power Systems (SCRAPS) model that considers risks to ratepayers under different energy resources and energy efficiency schemes using the Clean Power Plan as its baseline.

It shows, for example, that at a unit price $3.82, natural gas generation would be more affordable than new renewable energy systems. The scale tips the other way at $6.73.

Read more at Midwest Energy News, or see the whole report at 5 Lakes

Bats listed as ‘threatened’

The forestry industry took a collective sigh of relief recently when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the northern long-eared bat as a threatened species, not endangered, because it’s being devastated by a fungal infestation called white-nosed syndrome (WNS).

Commercial timber interests worked hard for the threatened status, along with so-called 4(d) rules that in combination will minimize the negative implications on logging and forest management.

Colonizing bats hibernate in caves, or in Michigan’s case, abandoned mines, making them susceptible to WNS, which causes irritation that disrupts hibernation, leading to stress and death. There is no known treatment.

MSU nixes coal

Michigan State University has announced it will replace coal with natural gas at its T.B. Simon Power Plant in 2016.

The conversion of three units to natural gas is part of the university’s 2012 Energy Transition Plan. A fourth unit can burn biomass, but media reports have not indicated how this unit fits into the fuel switching. Plant operators have struggled to make biomass work economically.

MSU has led Michigan in sustainable energy research and application through its Woody Biomass Experiment Station in Escanaba, and research into ag-based bioenergy, including torrefied biomass to co-fire with coal in the fourth unit. Last year they started growing fast-growing poplar to feed that boiler.

UP power deal morphs

The loosely-crafted deal to keep power on and costs down in the Upper Peninsula has taken another turn.

We Energies announced in March it would not sell the all-important Presque Isle Power (PIP) plant to the UP Power Co. (UPPCO). Instead, it’s keeping the plant and supplying the Cleveland Cliffs Mines with power. According to content in Gov. Rick Snyder’s special message on energy released the same day, UPPCO and the Mines couldn’t reach an agreement, and We Energies agreed to accept the Mines as a customer without additional system resource recovery (SSR) support.

Read more at the Milwaukee Journal and in the governor’s message.

Paper mill to close

FutureMark Manistique last week announced the closure of its UP paper mill, idling 147 workers.

The announcement leaves Verso as the last remaining paper manufacturer in the state. It has mills in Quinnesec and Escanaba.

The closure should have minimal impact on current fiber supply as its products were made of 100% post-consumer material. However, it’s another step in the contraction of the Michigan paper industry.

Read more.

DNR OKs mining deal

Dept. of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh has approved one of the state’s largest land sale/swaps with a Minnesota limestone mining company.

The state originally rejected the plan because it didn’t satisfy the state’s benchmarks for multiple use of state lands. The approved plan for the mine near Trout Lake in Mackinac County preserves surface rights and conditions for recreational and timber users.

The deal involves royalties paid to the state, the exchange and sale of land parcels, and transfer to the state of certain mineral on federal lands.

Bioenergy Day Oct. 21

Watch this newsletter for details on National Bioenergy Day (NBD), this year during the week of October 19.

Michigan Biomass, the Biomass Power Association and the U.S. Forest Service saw double the participation last year over the inaugural year in 2013. In 2014 there were 50 NBD events in the US and Canada, including one at Viking Energy in McBain, which was a collaboration with energy and other forest industry trades and associations, the USFS and the Dept. of Natural Resources.

NBD this year will coincide with national Forest Products Week.

You can keep abreast of developments at bioenergyday.org and michiganbiomass.com.

BCAP rules finalized

The US Dept. of Agriculture has finalized rules for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Changes include reducing matching payments from $45 to a $20 maximum, and limits on cost sharing for establishing biomass crops.

BCAP provides up to $25 million annually in subsidies for the delivery of biomass fuels to energy conversion facilities, which includes power, heat and advance biofuels such as pellets and liquid fuels. No less than 10% and not more than half of these funds are available for matching payments, typically used for the collection, harvest, storage and transportation of biofuels (CHST). Special projects receiving establishment payments for purpose-grown energy feedstocks are also eligible for matching CHST payments.

Eligible woody material must be collected and harvested directly from the land as a by-product of preventive treatments for hazardous fuel reductions that contain disease or infestations. Woody material resulting from preventative treatments solely for the purpose of restoring ecosystem health is no longer eligible for matching payments. Fiber used by higher-value markets, including mulch, is not eligible.

Read more at the Federal Register.

EIA map shows energy systems

Want to know how many turbines are in that wind farm you drive past every day? How about who owns that hydroelectric dam? The Energy Information Administration (EIA) now has an interactive map that shows the nation’s entire energy-related infrastructure.

Whether it’s an oil pipeline or coal generating facility, the EIA map provides data on production or storage capacity, ownership, fuel sources and precise location. It’s complete with layers and features that can be turned on and off to produce the results you’re looking for.

Visit the EIA map site.

 

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