State officials taking action to make sure Michigan isn’t left in the dark

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – The Michigan Agency for Energy is taking action, working to make sure a major black-out isn’t in our state’s future.

Crucial steps are being taken with two main thoughts in mind: learn from the past and be prepared.

Tuesday, the department requested a study be done to make sure the state has enough energy in case of an emergency.

This is a complex issue with a lot of moving parts. Here’s the gist of it.

In April, 10 Michigan power plants shut down, and there are more than a dozen others that are scheduled to in the next 4 years, including the Eckert plant here in Lansing.

The plants are being retired due to EPA regulations governing the use of coal to natural gas.

So, with fewer plants operating, some state officials have serious concerns that the closures could cause problems down the line.

“Our future growth and prosperity of this state depends upon a reliable supplies of electricity,” Dan Bishop said. “This is not something that’s two years away, it’s really on our doorstep right now and we do not want to have a crisis before it’s addressed.”

Bishop is the Director of Media Relations for Consumers Energy.

When it comes to adequate and reliable electricity it’s all about supply and demand and here in Michigan, officials have heightened concerns over our states electrical outlook when it comes to meeting those requirements two, three, and five years down the road.

“There are about 35 units in the state owned by Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, municipal utilities, MSU, over a period time that are shutting down,” Bishop said. “And this is because of previous or future EPA regulations; we’re really transitioning coal to natural gas.”

Bishop said the federal grid operator for the Midwest has identified Michigan’s Lower Peninsula as being at risk for having insufficient resources, and state officials including Executive Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, Valerie Brader, are working to get ahead of the game.

“What we’re doing is asking people who run the interstate grid system, if we could withstand the same kind of emergency conditions we had in 2012, when on a hot day, two nuclear plants went down unexpectedly,” Brader said. “Now most people didn’t know it happened because it didn’t cause any problems.”

But now, with fewer power plants on line, state officials want to know: if something big goes wrong , what would happen?

“We do have a safety margin so that when things go wrong, the grid stays up,”Brader said. “What we’re trying to figure out is, is 15 percent still the right number? Maybe we need 20. This is the kind of study that tells you, do you have a big enough safety margin to protect our reliability.”

State lawmakers are addressing this issue. A bill designed to ensure Michigan’s electric reliability, is currently sitting in the State Senate Energy Committee.

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