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Dearborn explores waste-to-energy plant feasibility

The city of Dearborn is soliciting proposals to explore the feasibility of a waste-to-energy plant.

The project is part of the city's efforts to become more environmentally friendly. Other recent initiatives are moving toward single-stream recycling and considering LED streetlights.
Local officials see the waste-to-energy plant as another feather in the city's tree-hugging hat.

"Do we have enough waste to create enough energy to support the industrial facilities in the city?" says David Norwood, sustainability coordinator for the city of Dearborn.

The waste-to-energy plant isn't your normal dirty Detroit-style incinerator. Dearborn is looking at gasification plans that don't actually burn the refuse. The city is also looking at an anerobic digestor for its sludge waste.

The proposals are due by May 24 (more information here) and a decision on the feasibility of this idea is expected to be made before the end of the year.

Source: David Norwood, sustainability coordinator for the city of Dearborn
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakland Schools Technical Campus adds solar, wind systems

The Oakland Schools Technical Campus in Clarkston is going for a twofer in alternative energy, installing both a solar- and a wind-power system.

Over the last year, Oak Electric has been working with the school to get approvals for permits and to sort out engineering issues. The foundations for the solar panels and the wind turbine have been poured and installation of the actual equipment will begin next week. Both systems should be up and running by the end of May.

The school district is spending $36,000 to install a two-kilowatt ground-mount solar system, which will be installed first. Next is a 2.4 kilowatt Skystream wind turbine that will stand 45 feet tall.

Both systems will be used to power the campus. They will also be used as teaching tools for students to learn about the ins and out of alternative energy.

Source: Gary Pipia, president of Oak Electric
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakland, Macomb counties push forward green programs

Oakland and Macomb counties are pushing toward a more sustainable government with a recent spate of announcements for environmentally friendly programs. Those programs include a website dedicated to information activities on sustainability, cutting energy costs through efficiency improvements, and challenging local residents and businesses to cut energy use by 10 percent within the next two years.

That last one is called the OakGreen Challenge and was issued by Oakland County Executive L Brooks Patterson just before the county's second annual Green Summit in mid-May.

The program is similar to Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje's Green Energy Challenge. That initiative, announced in 2005, calls for Ann Arbor to use 20 percent green energy by 2010 for municipal operations and by 2015 for the whole city. The city is now on a path to reach 30 percent green energy usage by the end of the year.

Not to be left out of the energy efficiency fun is Macomb County, which recently announced that it has saved taxpayers $44,400 in energy costs through implementing energy efficient improvements. Those savings took place in the first two months of contracting electrical power from First Energy for nine buildings that draw power from its main powerhouse, plus the Administration Building. The savings are projected to hit $600,000 over the next two years.

Macomb County also recently launched Green Macomb, a website dedicated to green initiatives and information. Think of the efforts being undertaken to create everything from energy efficiencies to clean water initiatives.

Source: Oakland and Macomb counties
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ann Arbor green lights LED streetlight pilot project

Energy-efficient LED streetlights are multiplying throughout Ann Arbor, thanks to a new partnership between the city and DTE Energy.


LED street lights are starting to spread from downtown Ann Arbor into the city's neighborhoods.

The city has recently partnered with DTE Energy to perform a pilot project for neighborhood LED streetlights. The two institutions will split the $44,800 bill to install 58 cobrahead LED streetlights in the student-housing-dominated neighborhood just south of the University of Michigan.

"Some students had previously raised concerns about the quality of streetlighting," says Andrew Brix, energy programs manager for the city of Ann Arbor. "We had been looking for an opportunity to try out LEDs in an area where DTE owned the lights. This worked out perfect."

Read the rest of the story here.

Karmanos and Crittenton open new cancer center

Karmanos Cancer Center and Crittenton Hospital Medical Center have opened a new shared facility in Rochester Hills that boasts a bevy of green features.

The new $16 million building features 30,000 square feet of state-of-the-art cancer treatment space. Patients will be able to receive advanced radiation treatment, chemotherapy, diagnostic imaging, and on-site laboratory testing. Seventeen employees staff the facility and that number is expected to grow later this year.

The center also has a number of sustainable features such as a white roof, occupancy sensors, and energy-efficient lights. All of these features were designed by Albert Kahn Associates and installed by Barton Malow, including the daylight harvesting system.

"The lobby has a lot of glass so you get a lot of natural light," says Larry Dziedzic, senior project manager for Barton Malow. "As the day gets brighter the daylight harvesting system shuts down the lights you don't need."

Source: Larry Dziedzic, senior project manager for Barton Malow
Writer: Jon Zemke

Birmingham installs LED lights in parking garage

Birmingham plans to launch its first LED light project this year when it installs the ultra-efficient bulbs in the Pierce Street Parking Garage.

The city plans to spend $350,000 switching out the old high-pressure sodium bulbs with LEDs, starting late this summer and finishing before the winter arrives. The parking garage has 227 light fixtures that were installed in 1986.

"They're pretty close to the end of their useful life," says Brendan Cousino, assistant city engineer for Birmingham.

LED lights use a fraction of the electricity of normal light bulbs because 95 percent of the energy they use creates light the human eye can see. In comparison, only 50 to 60 percent of energy used by regular bulbs makes visible light. LEDs also last several years longer than normal street lights.

The city of Birmingham expects to save $18,000 in electricity annually, plus thousands more dollars in maintenance costs. Other Metro Detroit cities are already enjoying similar benefits from their LED projects, including Pontiac and Auburn Hills. Ann Arbor is close to being finished with replacing all of its street lights with LEDs.

Bids for the project are expected to go out midway through the summer. About $125,000 in federal stimulus funds are helping to pay for the project.

Source: Brendan Cousino, assistant city engineer for Birmingham
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth looks at geothermal for Cultural Center

Plymouth is expecting significant cost savings through implementing a big-ticket green item in one of its facilities.

The city is considering switching its heating and cooling system from natural gas to geothermal at its Cultural Center. The facility houses an ice rink, meeting rooms, banquet rooms, and its recreation department offices.

It would cost about $1 million to remove the existing mechanisms and install the geothermal units. Geothermal is seen as the top-of-the-line energy efficient heating and cooling system. The city expects to make its investment back within 8-12 years and then enjoy significant savings after that.

"The energy savings is what does it for us," says Paul Sincock, city manager for Plymouth.

The circa-1972 building at 525 Farmer Road is served by a boiler that runs on natural gas and electricity for heating. It also uses three 100-ton compressors for the refrigeration system to keep the ice sink cool.

The city expects to make a decision on the project by April 19.

Source: Paul Sincock, city manager for Plymouth
Writer: Jon Zemke

DTE Energy looks for participants for SolarCurrents program

Solar power might not seem like the obvious alternative energy play in precipitation-happy Michigan, but it's one DTE Energy is going for with its SolarCurrents program.

The Detroit-based utility is looking for businesses and educational institutions with large rooftops or ground area to host solar energy installations. The idea is to help DTE meet Michigan's new Renewable Portfolio Standard while lowering energy bills.

"We do realize that solar might not be economically viable today in Michigan, but it may become so in the future," says Irene Dimitry, director of renewable energy for DTE. "There are reasons we are investing solar."

She adds that the costs of solar have been dropping recently thanks to a combination of increased competition, rising economies of scale, and a reduction in the price of materials. Dimitry also points out that Germany generates 3.5 percent of its energy from solar, and that country is not as solar friendly as Michigan.

"They are frequently referred to as one of the success stories," Dimitry says.

DTE hopes to harness photovoltaic systems on customer rooftops or property so it can generate 15 megawatts of renewable energy in Southeast Michigan over the next five years. It plans to invest $100 million in the program.

SolarCurrents requires customers to participate for 20 years. The solar energy systems will be owned, installed, operated, and maintained by the utility. In return, customers will get an annual credit on their energy bill based on the system size, as well as a one-time, upfront construction payment to cover any inconvenience during installation.

DTE is accepting applications until April 29. Interested participants should own a facility with 15,000 square feet of unobstructed roof in good condition or a similarly sized area on the ground.

So far 150 applications have been received. Of those, 80 percent have been from residential properties.

Source: Irene Dimitry, director of renewable energy for DTE Energy
Writer: Jon Zemke

Auburn Hills sets sustainable example; green roof on police dept

Auburn Hills city leaders are making the effort to talk the sustainability talk and walk a greener walk.

The city has incorporated a number of environmentally friendly features in its facilities as a way of showing potential investors that green building has plenty of benefits. That has led to a number of privately funded sustainable-oriented projects that wouldn't have necessarily been, such as Metro Detroit's first LEED certified dental office.

"We're really surprised that a lot of developers and engineers are not aware of them," says Pete Auger, city manager for Auburn Hills.

Storm water management is one of the principal green features on Auburn Hills' municipal campus. The 57-acre parcel has seven rain gardens, a couple of filtration ditches, and a bioswell, all of which absorb large amounts of water. The Auburn Hills Police Dept's shooting range also has a green roof to soak up the rain water runoff.

The city has also installed LED street lights on its municipal campus. LED lights are seen as the gold standard for energy efficient lighting.

"We had a five-year payback on that," Auger says. "It's been quite successful for us."

Source: Pete Auger, city manager for Auburn Hills
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ford shrinks carbon footprint, saves $16M to date

Ford is pushing green building forward by lowering the energy consumption of its computer systems.

The Dearborn-based automaker has implemented the PC Power Management program, which centrally manages the settings on Windows laptops and desktop computers. An estimated 60 percent of employees don't power down their computers when they leave at night, so the program does it for them.
It is also expected to increase worker efficiency by running software updates during off-peak hours.

Ford is implementing the system in its North American offices this year and its world-wide offices in 2011. The move is expected to save the company $1.2 million annually in power costs alone, equivalent to reducing its carbon footprint by an estimated 16,000 to 25,000 metric tons annually.

This initiative is part of Ford's ongoing process of making its buildings, both office and manufacturing, more energy efficient. That policy has allowed it to earn the EPA's ENERGY STAR Award for five straight years. The company has accomplished this with simple solutions, such as switching to CFL bulbs and installing electronic thermostats.

Ford has reduced its energy consumption by 5 percent, saving $16
million, since 2008. Energy use has fallen by 35 percent since 2000.

Source: Ford
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ypsilanti City Hall solar panels flip switch on electricity

A small group of people are making a bigger and bigger impact on alternative energy in Ypsilanti, one solar panel at a time.


The meters are spinning in the right direction at Ypsilanti's City Hall, now that the new solar panels on the south side of the building are generating electricity. Local officials and volunteers who made the project happen flipped the switch last weekend.

That not only turned on the 12 solar panels that adorn the downtown building, but concluded an ambitious grass roots project, Solar Ypsi, that continues to spread its roots throughout Ypsilanti.

Read the rest of the story here.

DTE offers energy efficiency webinars for small biz

DTE Energy has launched another program focused on helping its users create energy efficiency, this time all on the Internet.

The downtown Detroit-based utility will host a monthly webinar this year. The point is to teach small businesses how to save money on their utility bills. They will cover a variety of subjects, such as energy efficiency incentives, the best options for energy efficient lighting, and heating and energy audits. The webinars are an offshoot of the Your Energy Savings program.

"This is just one more component of a program to help our customers to save energy and money," says Eileen Dixon, a spokeswoman for
DTE Energy.

hour-long webinars will consist of a 45-minute presentation on that day's topic (the first of which is about available rebates and tax incentives for energy efficiency products) followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer period. Participants will be able to either email or call in questions for the presenters.

The free webinars will be held the third Thursday of each month, beginning at 2 p.m. today. Registration is required. For information, click here.

Eileen Dixon, a spokeswoman for DTE Energy
Writer: Jon Zemke

$600M scrubber project begins at Monroe Power Plant

Environmentally friendly work hasn't only begun on the Monroe Power Plant, the foundation is poured and workers bees will start buzzing in earnest now that the wintry weather has broke.

DTE Energy is spending $600 million to install two new flue gas desulfurization systems, commonly known as scrubbers, on the coal-fired power plant. The project is expected to create 900 jobs, including 600 in construction, and $300 million in indirect economic activity in the region.

It will also significantly reduce the release of toxic and greenhouse gases from the facility. The scrubbers reduce a number of emissions, including sulfur dioxide, by about 97 percent. The power plant consists of four electricity generation units. Two of those received scrubbers earlier this year. This project will cover the other two units.

The Monroe Power Plant is the first coal-fired power plant in Michigan to operate with scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction systems, which reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by about 90 percent. When operating together on the same generating unit, the combination also eliminates 75 to 90 percent of mercury emissions.

Source: Scott Simons, spokesman for DTE Energy
Writer: Jon Zemke

Dearborn evaluates sustainability program options

The city of Dearborn is looking at taking on a number of green initiatives ranging from enhanced recycling to LED streetlights and has six figures worth of federal grant money to get it started.

The city received a $250,000 federal grant (thank you federal stimulus package) last year to determine the feasibility for a number of green initiatives. Those options include possibly establishing a waste-to-energy plant in the city, going to single-stream recycling, and installing LED streetlights.

Only a small part of that $250,000 grant has been used. That grant is also the first part of a $970,800 grant to help implement some of these green initiatives and create a sustainability position in the city.

The waste-to-energy plant isn't your normal dirty Detroit-style incinerator. Dearborn is looking at a gasification plans that doesn't actually burn the refuse. The city is also looking at an anerobic digestor for its sludge waste.

Installing 300-350
LED streetlights in its neighborhoods is another option. LED streetlights, which use a fraction of the electricity and last longer than incandescent light bulbs, are the green cause de jour. Ann Arbor has grabbed numerous headlines with its efforts to install these lights throughout its downtown. Pontiac has also installed LEDs, and a number of other cities such as Ferndale, Wyandotte, and Detroit have toyed with the idea.

Dearborn is also planning to switch to single-stream recycling. That is where recyclers put all of their recycling into one container (no more sorting) and the city sorts it at the recycling plant.

"The money could be used to buy the recycling cars," says David Norwood, sustainability coordinator for the city of Dearborn.

Source: David Norwood, sustainability coordinator for the city of Dearborn
Writer: Jon Zemke

Warm Training Center, Clean Energy share in $200K block grant

Non-profits from Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Ypsilanti are splitting the lion's share of a $195,996 state grant to promote municipal sustainability.

The Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, & Economic Growth awarded the money, which originated from the federal stimulus package, to four non-profits. They include the Michigan Municipal League Foundation of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti-based Clean Energy Coalition, and WARM Training Center.

The latter is a 30-year-old Detroit-based non-profit that helps people make their homes and businesses more energy efficient and implement alternative energy generators. It received $59,400 to help small municipalities (35,000 residents or less) in southeast Michigan become more energy efficient in their facilities.

"The focus is definitely energy efficiency," says Bob Chapman, executive director of the WARM Training Center. "However, we broadened it to any type of green technology and reducing green house emissions."

The Clean Energy Coalition received $58,300 to support 37 communities in south and south-central Michigan. The Michigan Municipal League Foundation received $58,296 to support 36 communities in the southwest, west and northern portions of the state. East Lansing-based Michigan Energy Options received $20,000 to support 12 communities in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Source: Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, & Economic Growth and Bob Chapman, executive director of the WARM Training Center
Writer: Jon Zemke
121 Energy Articles | Page: | Show All
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