CO2 2022/2021 : 421 ppm / 418.67 ppm
Dear Michigan Climate News readers,
In the news this week: It's not so easy for DTE to stop burning coal, the heat is dialing up, and shutting down Line 5 is not likely to drive gas prices through the roof (any more than they already are, anyway).
And in this week's climate solutions feature, two Detroiters take solar to the party.
Have a great week!
— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News
p.s. Let us know what you want to see in this newsletter by taking our reader survey!
THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Still burning coal: In the past few years, Michigan utilities have rolled out promises to reduce emissions and retire coal plants, but DTE Energy remains dependent on coal – the nation’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses – for delivering power to its 2.2 million customers. The Monroe coal-fired power plant generates a third of the 10,000 megawatts DTE needs, and the utility may have difficulty replacing this level of power generation by 2040, when it is slated to close. "It's a very large plant, and the grid was built around that plant," said Angela Wojtowicz, DTE vice president of business planning and development. "So to retire that much generation in one location, we really have to make sure we are looking at the reliability of the whole transmission system." DTE is considering several power sources to replace the Monroe plant, including solar, hydrogen storage and small nuclear reactors. Another option is using transmission lines to import solar power from the Southwest and wind energy from the Great Plains, where these sources are more abundant. Rooftop solar could also go some way towards helping the state meet its energy needs, but DTE and Consumers Energy have fought against lifting the 1% cap on distributed energy. (Freep, MI Radio)
Heat on the way: Temperatures will rise into the upper 90s in Detroit on Wednesday and the heat index could make it feel like 105F. However, temperatures are expected to dip back into the low 80s by the weekend. This follows a heatwave in the western U.S. that baked Phoenix at 110 F for four days. Even at night, temperatures were still touching 100 degrees, which is especially concerning because this can prevent people from cooling down, increasing the likelihood of heat-related illness and death. Phoenix is already investigating 30 possible heat-related deaths that have occurred since April. Heat records were also set in several other towns in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Texas this week. Experts say the climate crisis enhances these heatwaves, making them hotter and increasing their duration. (Freep, Guardian, NYTimes, WaPo)
Not a penny more: Court documents revealed that a consultant for Enbridge Energy predicted the closure of the company’s Line 5 pipeline, which runs through the Straits of Mackinac, would cause gas prices to rise by half a cent. "For five years, we have had no fewer than three other energy experts confirm what Enbridge’s own expert now recognizes: that Line 5 can shut down with little to no noticeable impact at the pump," said Beth Wallace, manager of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation. Advocates for shutting down the controversial pipeline say that its closure will have little impact on Michigan consumers while speeding the transition away from fossil fuels. Enbridge said in a written statement that the consultant’s estimate was made before the global spike in energy prices. (MI Radio)
Slap in the face: Michigan environmental groups are opposing a power project in Marshall that a representative from the Sierra Club said would be one of the largest gas proposals in the Midwest. “This is a slap in the face to me and my neighbors in South Central Michigan who are rightfully skeptical of fossil fuels, still haunted by Enbridge’s Kalamazoo River oil spill back in 2010, and by ongoing oil drilling in Kalamazoo County," said Craig Brainard, a South Central Michigan Sierra Club member. This is the second attempt by the New York-based Development Partners to build two gas power plants in Marshall that would produce 1,000 megawatts of energy and emit four million tons of carbon dioxide per year. (WWMT, MLive)
Solarized: Since 2019, the Solarize program in Ann Arbor has allowed 430 residents to receive bulk-purchase discounts on home solar. The program is open to anyone in Washtenaw County and has helped residents save $1.3 million on the upfront costs of solar, with expected savings of almost $12 million in energy costs over the next 25 years. The program is part of Ann Arbor’s “A2Zero” initiative, which looks to achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2030. (MLive, Conversation)
THIS WEEK'S CLIMATE SOLUTIONS FEATURE
Solar Party Detroit takes local live events off the grid
Left to Right: Ash Arder, Diane Cheklich of Solar Party Detroit
Attend a DJ set or live music performance in the Metro Detroit area, and it might be powered by solar, thanks to an organization in Detroit that’s bringing solar to the party.
The organization, called Solar Party Detroit, offers off-grid solar-powered units for everything from parties to DJ sets to outdoor movies. Anything electronic, Solar Party can do.
What questions do you have about the environment and climate change in Michigan? Please let us know by reaching out to me at email@example.com or hit reply!