The public input process announced last year in Gov. Rick Snyder’s Special Message on Energy and the Environment is now underway with the launch of a new website for the Michigan Energy Office and public forums occurring throughout the state.
The information gathered online and at the public forums will help policymakers and the public take a comprehensive look at Michigan’s energy future. Gov. Snyder will rely on the results of this process when making his comprehensive recommendations regarding Michigan’s energy future in December 2013. This process will enable policymakers to implement new decisions about our energy framework that will enhance Michigan’s adaptability, reliability, affordability, and environment.
Attend a Public Forum
Seven public forums were scheduled for early 2013 – most have already been held, but two are occurring within the next few weeks.
Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman John D. Quackenbush and Michigan Energy Office Director Steve Bakkal – the officials charged by the governor with co-chairing and overseeing the public input process – host the events.
Voice Your Opinion Online
The revamped Michigan Energy Office website accepts public comments through April 25.
To assist the policymakers who will be making decisions, commenters are encouraged to submit factual questions, information, reports, and suggestions on what information is needed to make good energy decisions.
To help guide the process, co-chairs Quackenbush and Bakkal have developed a series of questions that asks for specific information about renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the regulatory structure for electricity, as well as other energy topics. To keep the focus on verifiable facts, commenters are asked to refrain from advocating or recommending a particular policy.
Take this opportunity to impact future energy policies – voice your opinion by attending a public forum or commenting online.
Michigan residents submitted videos commenting on the state’s road infrastructure, railways, bike paths, pedestrian paths, and stories of their commutes as part of Trans4M’s Lights, Camera, Transportation! video contest.
The organization is now sharing these transportation insights with the public and decision-makers. Visit the Trans4Mstory YouTube channel and join the transportation dialogue. Be sure to check out the videos submitted by Clean Energy Coalition:
Lights, Camera, Transportation! participants clearly share a vision for a well-connected transportation system that includes car, trucks, bikes, buses, and trains.
The Lights, Camera, Transportation! YouTube contest draws to a close on April 18. The organization whose videos have the most collective views will receive $1,000 toward any transportation initiative of their choice. Any elected official who comments on a video automatically adds 500 views to the affiliated organization’s collective view tally.
For more information about the contest, to see the contest rules and for information the videos, please visit the Transportation for Michigan website.
Celebrate our natural world at the annual Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival on Sunday, April 21, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Leslie Science & Nature Center. This free, family-friendly event features displays from 40 local environmental, non-profit, and governmental organizations; live animal demonstrations; hands-on activities; product and toy testing; live entertainment; green building and commuting technologies; energy topics; water awareness; sustainable agriculture; and more.
The host site, the Leslie Science & Nature Center, includes a host of natural areas for visitors to explore. Stop by the registration table and pick up your passport to guide you through the Earth Day activities. Scan a QR Code with your smartphone to carry the day’s schedule with you.
Entertainment highlights include:
The Leslie Science & Nature Center will offer birds of prey orientations throughout the event. Meet these healthy, non-releasable birds up-close and discover what makes them hunters of the sky. Visit naturalists David Clipner and Brian Cressman in the Critter House and meet some amazing animals during their engaging and dynamic animal presentations.
The Scrap Box will host a marvelous Earth Day crafting opportunity in the Nature House. Free face painting will be provided by Touchstone Cohousing, and an amazing Bountiful Bubbles station will feature bubble play and exploration, with spontaneous bubble storms and gigantic bubble demonstrations. Meet Dave Konkle, inventor of the wind-powered Whirlydoodle, as he prepares applesauce in a solar cooker.
Tour the Project Grow Discovery Garden and Compost Education Center, or take a guided hike to Black Pond and check the water level in this Vernal Pond.
The Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health will provide an opportunity to test toys and other home products for toxic chemicals, while the Leslie Office staff will accept select toner cartridges and small electronics for recycling, as detailed on the website.
Earth Day admission is FREE due to generous sponsorship from the City of Ann Arbor, Clean Energy Coalition, the Leslie Science & Nature Center, Dollar Bill Copying, NSF International, and Big George’s.
Delicious on-site concessions and refreshments will be available from vendors including Pilar’s Tamales and Silvio’s Organic Pizza. In the true spirit of Earth Day – this year’s festival will again be a Zero Waste event, with help from Recycle Ann Arbor and their grant from the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.
The Earth Day event is planned by an umbrella organization: The Environmental Education Network of Washtenaw (EENOW). EENOW includes The City of Ann Arbor, Ecology Center, Recycle Ann Arbor, Leslie Science & Nature Center, Clean Energy Coalition, NSF International, Washtenaw Community College, and the Scrap Box. Additionally, adult, student, and scout volunteers staff this beloved community event. If you are an individual or group interested in volunteering, please sign up through the volunteer link at www.a2earthday.org.
Clean Energy Coalition Project Manager Mark Rabinsky will appear on the next edition of WEMU’s Issues of the Environment, airing Wednesday, March 20 at 8:20 a.m.
Mark discusses electric vehicles and Plug-In Ready Michigan, a statewide plan that provides the necessary information and tools to planners, local officials, consumers, and private enterprises to prepare for an increase in plug-in electric vehicle use.
In southeast Michigan, tune in to 89.1 FM Wednesday morning. The show will also be available on WEMU’s website following the broadcast.
Ann Arbor, one of the nation’s most bike-friendly cities, is on the verge of becoming the first municipality in Michigan to launch a bike sharing program.
Clean Energy Coalition is bringing together a group of stakeholders – the University of Michigan, the City of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, and the Ann Arbor Transit Authority – to create a bike sharing network serving downtown Ann Arbor and UM’s campus.
Bike sharing programs offer easy-to-use bicycle rental opportunities for short distance trips around town. A network of stations allow riders to make easy one-way trips to and from popular destinations around town. (For more information about how bike sharing works, read our Understanding Bike Sharing article.)
The availability of bicycle rentals in key downtown and campus locations will provide many benefits to residents and visitors. Bike sharing will connect riders with Ann Arbor’s public transportation and existing non-motorized network. The program also provides environmentally friendly transportation, supporting the goals of the city’s Climate Action Plan.
Bike sharing programs have been popular in European cities for several decades and are just now gaining traction in the United States. Minneapolis, Madison, Boulder, and Washington, DC have established bike sharing within the last couple of years, and dozens of other U.S. cities are preparing to launch programs.
Grace Singleton, Managing Partner at Zingerman’s Deli, believes Ann Arbor is the perfect location for bike share program. She says, “I’m very excited about the possibility of bike sharing coming to downtown Ann Arbor. Zingerman’s staff will benefit by being able to use the bikes to run quick errands during the day. I think it is a major tourist benefit, it rounds out the day-to-day transportation needs for the city, and helps put Ann Arbor on the map as one of the first cities of our size to get a bike share program.”
Clean Energy Coalition and our project partners are in the process of selecting a bike sharing vendor and securing the remaining funds necessary to run the program. We expect to receive $600,000 in Federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds for bike sharing equipment, and the University of Michigan has pledged $600,000 over three years for operations.
Clean Energy Coalition is working to secure additional funds from project partners and raise about $200,000 in sponsorships and community donations.
For information about sponsorship or donation opportunities, contact Matt Sandstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Ann Arbor bike sharing, contact Program Supervisor Heather Seyfarth at email@example.com.
Five area businesses will soon kick off projects that will help reduce energy expenses and boost property values, thanks to the City of Ann Arbor’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, managed by Clean Energy Coalition.
Energy-efficient lighting, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, upgraded cooking equipment, roof and wall insulation, and solar shingles are just some of the projects that will receive financing through the first PACE program to launch in Michigan. PACE financing, which is made available through the sale of a bond and repaid by property owners through annual special assessments, features long-term, low, fixed interest rates.
“PACE is a direct $560,000 investment in the local economy that will result in annual energy savings for local businesses of more than $56,000,” Mayor John Hieftje said. “The annual electricity and natural gas savings of the first five PACE projects will be equivalent to the electricity used by more than 50 homes in a year. Our city’s Climate Action Plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 8% from 2000 levels by 2015, and these projects – and others like them – are an important part of helping Ann Arbor reach its sustainability goals.”
The Ann Arbor City Council authorized the sale of PACE bonds during its February 19 meeting. The first bond sale was completed March 7 with Ann Arbor State Bank, which had been awarded the bond during a Request for Quotes process that opened in January. With this successful sale, the City of Ann Arbor is the first Michigan municipality to sell PACE bonds, joining dozens of municipal governments across the country in taking advantage of this financial tool to improve energy efficiency.
Proceeds from the sale of the PACE bond, estimated to be approximately $560,000, will be assigned to owners of five commercial properties within the City of Ann Arbor that have completed a thorough eligibility and application process in order to participate in the program. These properties include: Arrowwood Hills Cooperative Housing, Big Boy Restaurant (Plymouth Road), Bivouac, Goodyear Building, and Kerrytown Market & Shops. Energy project work is expected to begin immediately and be completed within 90 days. While the property owners are entering into financing reservation agreements with the City now, the funds will not be disbursed until energy projects are completed and inspected.
Property owners will repay PACE assessments annually, beginning in June 2014. As determined by the terms of the bond sale, property owners have 10 years to repay assessments at 4.75% interest.
“PACE will have a direct impact on our community. In the short term, projects at these five businesses will pour more than $500,000 into our local economy, employing area contractors and energy experts,” said Peter Schork, President of Ann Arbor State Bank. “PACE will also have a lasting benefit in the years to come – property values will increase with these investments, utility expenses will decrease, and the improved, energy-efficient properties become an asset for the entire community.”
In 2010, with the assistance of local state lawmakers Senator Rebekah Warren and Representative Jeff Irwin, the State of Michigan enacted the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act (Public Act 270 of 2010), enabling local governments to create special assessment districts to offer financing to commercial and industrial property owners for eligible energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems. Under Ann Arbor’s program, interested property owners completed a thorough application process to ensure their properties complied with eligibility requirements regarding project size, scope, and payback period; property value; and debt ratios. Energy assessments were also performed on the properties to identify project and savings opportunities.
“PACE is a significant step in helping Ann Arbor achieve its environmental goals, and we’re proud to have partnered with the City of Ann Arbor to sell the first PACE bond in Michigan. After seeing Ann Arbor businesses breaking ground on energy-saving projects, we hope that additional municipalities throughout the state will take advantage of this program and make PACE a priority,” said Sean Reed, executive director of Clean Energy Coalition.
The Ann Arbor PACE program was developed and administered through a partnership between the City of Ann Arbor and Clean Energy Coalition. Funding for program development was made possible by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For information about PACE, visit a2energy.org/PACE.
Clean Energy Coalition Project Manager Laura Palombi will appear on the next edition of WJR’s Powering Michigan’s Future, airing Wednesday, March 13 at 7 p.m.
Laura discusses Michigan Fuel Forward, a project aimed at accelerating the use and availability of alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure across Michigan. Clean Energy Coalition is now soliciting fleet managers and industry representatives to participate in the project.
Powering Michigan’s Future, which airs the second Wednesday of each month from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., is sponsored by IBEW/NECA.
In southeast Michigan, tune in to AM 760 Wednesday evening. The full show will also be available on WJR’s website following the broadcast.
As announced late last year, Clean Energy Coalition was awarded $500,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities initiative to fund Michigan Fuel Forward, a project aimed at accelerating the use and availability of alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) and infrastructure across Michigan.
We’re currently seeking fleet managers and alternative fuel experts to take active roles in this project.
Petroleum Reduction Plans for Fleets
Municipal and private fleet managers are invited to apply to receive support from Clean Energy Coalition in developing a petroleum reduction plan for their fleet.
Participants are required to:
Fleet managers interested in participating may apply by completing this brief application form. The application period closes April 30, 2013. Selected participants will be invited to a kick-off webinar in mid May.
Alternative fuel and advanced vehicle industry representatives are invited to support the Taskforce and assist with technical training programs.
Participants are required to:
Alternative fuel experts interested in participating may apply by completing this brief application form. The application period closes April 30, 2013.
Vehicle technicians, fleet managers, and first responders are invited to attend training events that will be offered throughout the two-year grant period.
We’re planning training events throughout the state. Provide your contact information, and we’ll notify you of upcoming training opportunities.
Project Manager (petroleum reduction plans and training)
734.585.5720 x. 22
Project Manager (Taskforce)
Clean Energy Coalition is opening up its office for Green Drinks, a casual gathering of environmentally-minded people. The event takes place Thursday, March 28, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Stop by for a drink and lively conversation with friends old and new. The event is BYOB, and snacks are welcome.
See you there!
Clean Energy Coalition
924 N. Main Street, Suite 2
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
The City of Detroit recently purchased 8 new hybrid refuse trucks, thanks in part to funding from Clean Energy Coalition’s Michigan Green Fleets program.
The trucks, Mack LEU chassis with Bosch Rexroth hybrid technology, each cost $180,000. Clean Energy Coalition provided the City of Detroit with grant funding totaling $40,000 per truck, which offset the additional cost of the hybrid system.
Innovative Technology from Bosch Rexroth
The Bosch Rexroth hydrostatic regenerative braking (HRB) system installed in each truck operates in parallel with the vehicle’s engine. According to Dave Brosky, sales product manager at Bosch Rexroth, “This means that if there were a problem with the hydraulic system, the truck could still operate. This is important for work vehicles.”
HRB allows trucks to store more energy and use it more quickly than in a hybrid electric system, an ideal fit for vehicles that undergo frequent stops and starts, like refuse trucks.
The HRB system is quite new – in addition to Detroit, New York City boasts 17 trucks outfitted with the technology, with another 30 on the way in the coming months.
Impact in Detroit
Detroit’s refuse trucks travel extensively throughout the city, collecting refuse and recyclables around the clock, which makes the investment in hybrid technology all the more important.
Hybrid trucks are more efficient than traditional refuse trucks, allowing the city to reduce fuel expenses and stretch each gallon of gas even further.
A representative from the City of Detroit’s Department of Public Works said, “The vehicle is turned off while our workers are loading the truck and when the vehicle stops as a traffic light. We expect that a considerable amount of fuel will be saved with the idle-off capability and mileage will be increased.”
The new trucks are also expected to cost less to maintain. Brosky points out, “Another big advantage, because the pump is used to slow the vehicle, is reduced brake maintenance costs.”
Importantly, the hybrid trucks will also generate fewer harmful emissions, reducing their environmental impact.
Michigan Green Fleets is a U.S. Department of Energy program — managed by Clean Energy Coalition and funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act — to deploy clean-fueled vehicles and build the necessary infrastructure to support them.