By SooToday.com Staff
Saturday, May 22, 2010
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Unnecessary plant far too expensive for Michigan ratepayers
LANSING - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) yesterday denied Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative's air quality permit to install application for a new 600-megawatt power plant, fueled primarily by petroleum coke and coal, in Rogers City.
The decision follows a thorough review of the permit application under state and federal law.
The state's decision is based on findings of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), which said the company failed to demonstrate the plant was needed to meet future supply needs.
The MPSC staff also determined that building the proposed plant would increase electricity rates paid by average residential customers to 20.7 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The 59.2 percent rate increase would cost the average residential customer $76.95 more each month.
Only Hawaii has a higher average kilowatt-hour rate.
"We are protecting hundreds of thousands of Michigan homeowners, businesses, and farmers from paying a whopping increase in their electric bills, which would have been among the highest in the nation," Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said. "The cost of doing business in Michigan would have skyrocketed, and despite the short-term gain from its construction, this project would have been a job-killer and a roadblock in our efforts to bring new economic development investments to Michigan."
Granholm said that in addition to protecting ratepayers from being gouged with higher electric bills, the decision protects Michigan's environment from the pollution an unnecessary plant fueled primarily by petroleum coke and coal would produce.
Last year, Granholm asked energy experts at the MPSC to analyze whether there was a need for the proposed Wolverine facility and if there were alternative methods of meeting their customer demand.
The governor also asked the DNRE to consider the MPSC analysis as part of its air permit review process, consistent with the department's duties under state and federal law.
The DNRE ultimately determined that Wolverine had not adequately demonstrated through the alternative analysis the inability to secure long-term power supply purchase arrangements, such as buying power from an existing power plant, to meet their member needs.
Wolverine Power is a wholesale provider of energy to four electric cooperatives that include Cherryland Electric Cooperative, Great Lakes Energy, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative, and Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op.
The MPSC analysis showed there were a number of alternative methods that would allow Wolverine to adequately supply its customers at a fraction of the cost of constructing a new coal-fired power plant.
Stupak statement on governor's decision to deny Wolverine Power's air permit
WASHINGTON, DC â€“ U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) issued the following statement in response to Governor Jennifer Granholmâ€™s announcement that Wolverine Power Supply Cooperativeâ€™s air quality permit has been denied:
â€śGovernor Granholmâ€™s decision to deny Wolverine Powerâ€™s air permit for a new power plant in Rogers City is a blow to Michiganâ€™s economy and prevents northern Michigan from helping to establish the state as a leader in new energy technologies.
"This project was an opportunity to create much-needed jobs in northeastern Michigan and meet Michiganâ€™s energy needs, while remaining consistent with the goal of producing cleaner energy.
"The most direct and immediate result of denying this permit is the loss of an estimated 2,800 construction, supply and operations jobs that would come with the project. It also signals a continuation of Michiganâ€™s reliance on inefficient power plants with high rates of pollution constructed 40 to 50 years ago.
"Late last year, Wolverine Powerâ€™s Rogers City plant project was identified as a priority for our national energy plan with the award of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
"The Wolverine Power Clean Energy Venture Project was designed to utilize carbon capture and sequestration technologies, co-fire 20 percent of its fuel from biomass, and construct more than 50 megawatts of clean wind energy.
"The proposed plant would have been cleaner and greener than most existing power plants in Michigan and would have led the nation in improving and developing cutting-edge clean energy technologies.
"In denying this permit, the governor has also denied Michigan the potential for an additional $147 million in federal funding for clean energy research and job creation.
"Wolverineâ€™s Rogers City project enjoyed wide support in the local communities that would have been most impacted by any change in rates â€“ including local legislators, city and county governments, area businesses and local residents.
"This support was made clear during the public meetings held to allow for local input into this project and makes the governorâ€™s decision to deny the permit all the more regrettable."
Stupak has been a strong advocate for the Wolverine Power Rogers City plant project, both at the federal and state level.
He wrote two letters of support for the project to U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, helping to secure federal funding for the project.
Stupak also spoke with Granholm and sent several letters urging the governor and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment to approve Wolverineâ€™s air quality permit.
Northern Michigan economy snubbed again
Governorâ€™s Wolverine power plant denial a bad decision
State Senator Jason Allen and House Republican Leader Kevin Elsenheimer yesterday expressed their strong disappointment with the Granholm administration after it denied a permit for a new power generation plant in Rogers City.
The plant would have boosted Northern Michiganâ€™s economy with 2,500 good-paying construction jobs and established a base power generation source that would help the region to rebuild and grow for the future.
â€śThis latest decision is another sad chapter in a pattern of neglect by the administration,â€ť said Allen, R-Alanson. â€śOfficials have hurt our tourism industry by closing Northern Michigan state campgrounds, dragged their heels for years on establishing a state snowmobile route between Gaylord and Cheboygan and now after more than a thousand days they have pulled the plug on the Wolverine Power Company plant. The administration is leaving a painful legacy for our region of the state to grapple with for many years to come.â€ť
The Wolverine Power Company proposed a state-of-the-art clean-coal power plant in Rogers City almost three years ago but was put on indefinite hold last year when the governor interjected another roadblock by requiring the Department of Environmental Quality to conduct further reviews of such projects.
The governor did approve a similar coal plant construction project downstate for Consumers Energy near Bay City.
â€śThe value of the Rogers City project to Michigan and the local region was immense especially while the state is looking for job creation and setting a foundation to build on for the future,â€ť said Elsenheimer, R-Kewadin.