Well there was a very good turn out at the City Opera House last night for the TCLP forum to discuss the future energy needs. Basically how the conducted this meeting was first they did a power point presentation on their plan, how much it would cost by kilowatt hour of energy by systems, how these systems would impact the environment, and then they asked three questions.
1) What do you like about the 30 by 20 plan?
2) What don’t you dislike about the 30 by 20 plan?
30 What should TCLP do instead?
For some that don’t know the 30/ 20 plan is to reach 30% renewable energy production by 2020. This is a large undertaking on their part. Which is doable, I think.
Next after their power point they split us up into 6 groups. Each group was to answer the three questions above and place their answers on a board. Once we were through with answering the questions we had to take the two best answers we felt from each of the three questions and vote on it. We were allowed two votes per question. Then once that was done everyone went back to their seats. The moderaters each then looked to see want how everyone voted by question. The TCLP people they asked each groups moderator to give the results.
The people were all kind of in agreement that They did not want a bio-mass plant, the wanted more information, they weren’t apposed to a rate hike if it meant they could have true renewables and they want TCLP to use more of other things like wind, solar, and land-fill gas. They also thought there should be a feed-in tariff. A feed-in tariff is an amount paid my the utility company to you the use of the power that your renewable energy system produces. Basically you install the power plant and now you become the power provider for the utility. Under the RPS they, the utility, have to get their renewable energy from other source other than systems they install themselves. In away it prevent monopolies from happening.
The biggest concern is the using up of all our forest for these bio-mass plants. Because if Traverse City, Mancelona and Frankfort get one and Cadillac already has one, were are they going to get the fuel for these plants. The other concern if they continue to harvest for the same areas what was the ground going to be like after years of use and abuse. I know for my grandfather was a farmer in the Thumb and my dad has decide to farm the same land. My Grandfather keeps telling him, my dad, that land is all used up. But he continues to try and farm it anyways despite the fact he was told. Now my dad spends all this money for fertilizers and all kind of other chemicals to try get crops to grow on land that has no fertility left in it.
So after the group sessions results were announced then the Q and A portion of the meeting started. By then a lot of the people were already leaving to go home because it was getting late. Unfortunately most of the people there were in the 40 -80 year old range. There were less then 1% that were less then 40 years of age. Which I was surprised that no one less then 40 even went. Because I had just left another event made up of that age group and most of them, said that none of them were going. That is very disturbing to me, because what they don’t speak up about, then this older group is going set their future coarse. You will be faced to live with their choices today, tomorrow.
My question was what was the total price tag to install this bio-mass plant if that was the road they were going to take and it was $40 million. Well if you don’t think your electric rates aren’t going up your only kidding yourself.
So if they want to spend $40m on a system that no one wants. Keep in mind they are trying to produce base load power. Which means it is on 80- 90% of the time and it generated locally not down state.
One person brought up what about installing 29 more wind turbines because one of their charts showed that the turbine on M-72 was 1% of their power production roughly. I am for wind but I know those turbines are going to have to be bigger then that one. They would have to be 2.5 megawatts. I looked around to try and get some idea what a 2.5mw turbine would cost and it was about $4million each. So if we took that $40m and bought 10 turbines that would be 12.5mw of generation and you can figure that the turbines are never running at peak production but even if it was 50% that would be 6.25mw. The only problem the wind does not blow all the time. So that is a small portion of the solution. Not a reliable baseline power source.
I am still a firm believer that you use what you already currently have. So lets take a look at what is available now and lets spend that $40 million on the things that are here.
We have four dams that could be upgraded. Now they keep saying it costs to much to replace them and they don’t generate enough. I have no figures on the cost to do that. But will it cost $40m? Just asking. Even if it takes $5m better then $40m and hydro is a baseline power source.
We have two landfills one not being used (corner Harris and Cedar Run) and one that is (M-72west). The best guess I can see on cost for a landfill systems is about $3m to install. Now I do not know how much methane is being released from these sites but I am sure it is not just a little bit. So two landfills $3m each that is $6m not $40m for the bio-mass plant. Landfill gas extraction baseline power source
The natural gas generator in Kalkaska, Ed Rice said that system was only for peak times and it was not permitted for more than that type of usage because of emissions. Again have no idea what it would cost to make that change but I am sure it won’t be $40m. The other thing he said was the price of natural gas is so volatile. That is true but you get deals for a set price for x amount of years. I got a call just the other day for a company that guaranteed my natural gas price at a fixed rate. Cheaper than what I pay now. So again cost to do the upgrades lets guess maybe $20m. Could be a baseline power source if done correctly.
So lets add up all the cost of the sources that are currently available at this moment to either install or upgrade. Now I have no real numbers here so I maybe high I maybe low, these are just guesses.
Kalkaska Natural Gas Generation $20m
Landfill Gas Extraction $6m
Hydro Upgrades $5m
3- 2.5mw wind turbines $12
They way I could see this could be more than what they want for a baseline genration of 10 megawatts.
Now keep in mind this not taking into count labor to run this equipment, maintenance or repairs . This is just the construction and upgrade costs. These items are another issue all together.
In conclusion this is just my opinion whether it is right or wrong I don’t know. But I feel it is better then cutting down trees and polluting the air. I lived in Denver for a couple of years and the amount of pollution that hangs over the city is just stagering. It gets so bad sometimes that they issue health warnings to stay indoors. Now some of those folks that were there last night would have all kinds of breathing problems because of it. I don’t want that to happen here. I like it here and I am going to one of those older folks someday and I don’t feel like someone else’s decision should ruin my quality of lifestyle. Which really it isn’t a lifestyle at all. With out good quality air everything will disappear.