LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Experts say that with at least nine coal plants in Michigan slated to shut down in the next 10 months, natural gas is the likely replacement as the primary source for generating energy.
Holland Coal Plant
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio
But they are not predicting a large increase in natural gas production in the state. Instead, they say there likely will be more pipelines and other infrastructure built to import more natural gas from nearby Ohio and Pennsylvania. Recent discoveries of the resource in those states created booms in the industry. Natural gas is expected to represent up to 26 percent of Michigan's electricity mix by 2025, up from 14 percent now. Environmental advocates say importing more natural gas means pipeline safety must be ensured in Michigan and other states producing the fuel.
A new report released by the Graham Sustainability Institute looks at Michigan's options for regulating hydraulic fracturing of natural gas in Michigan.
The report says current regulations are written for smaller wells drilled to a depth of 800 to 2,000 feet, using about 50,000 gallons of water each. But high-volume fracking, using wells drilled as deep as 10,000 feet, could take off in Michigan if economic conditions become favorable for it. There are currently only 13 high-volume wells in Michigan, compared to 12,000 conventional shallow wells.
One of the top Republicans in the state House has introduced bills that would make sweeping changes to Michigan’s energy policies. It comes ahead of Governor Rick Snyder’s address on the issue next week.
The Environment Report for Tuesday, December 9, 2014 — EPA regulations and energy shortages
The coal industry and conservative politicians say new carbon rules for coal-burning power plants will kill the industry, and they warn that without coal, extreme weather events, like last year's polar vortex, could leave people in the cold and dark. But how well does this argument hold up?
UP residents talk about their concerns about paying for the coal plant
The cost of electricity could jump dramatically next month in the Upper Peninsula.
Residents there might have to start paying to keep a coal plant open that isn't entirely needed anymore. The increase will be a harsh blow to a region that struggles economically.
Brimley is a little town at the end of the road on Lake Superior’s south shore. There’s a bar, a casino and a couple motels. Brimley State Park draws campers here in the summer and into Ron Holden’s IGA grocery store.
"Basically the six weeks of summer pay for the rest of the year’s bills, " he says. On the wall of the IGA are deer heads, a black bear rug, and a flag that says, ‘American by choice, Yooper by da grace of God.’
But being a Yooper might cost more starting December 1. Holden expects his store’s electric bill will be $700 a month higher and he has no idea where he’ll get that money.