Bill Koucky is an inventor, entrepreneur and true renaissance man. His vision for local energy independence includes a complete circle that starts with growing non-GMO canola seed, pressing the oil, selling that product to restaurants and other culinary users who can return the used oil, where it is blended with ethanol produced from local food waste and turned into biodiesel to power tractors to plant more seed, run generators and other vehicles.
They say the cheapest energy is the energy you don't have to use. This episode of Investigating Community Resilience looks at local efforts to encourage people to make their homes more energy efficient. Jessica Wheaton of Traverse City Light & Power and Brian Beauchamp of the Michigan Land Use Institute talk to host Dave Barrons about what is being done.
In this discussion, Jim MacInnes CEO of Crystal Mountain Resort, sits down with Dave to discuss energy policy and decisions. Jim outlines all that has been done at Crystal to improve energy conservation and efficiency to become one of the business leaders in the field. Jim also openly discusses the need for business to get behind energy improvements. Michigan is energy poor but can make great advances in both efficiency and conservation. Jim and Dave also discuss the concept of a national revenue neutral carbon tax as proposed by the Citizen's Climate Lobby.
This edition of iCR deals with a brewing issue in the state of Michigan, the reliability and safety of Enbridge Pipeline Co. pipelines in our state and specifically their proposal to increase the flow and pressure in 60 year pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac. The discussion features Bill McKibben who was part of a recent protest against the Enbridge plans held in St. Ignace on the shores of the Straits of Mackinac.
Garforth argues that efficient use of energy is the first step towards securing energy security and resilience in the future. Green energy generation, whether from solar panels or wind generators or hydro-electric or any other source can only work if we address the wasteful use our buildings make of current energy supply. Forty percent of our energy use in this country is in our buildings' electricity and heat demand. We must use it better. The iCR camera then returns to a private residence to see how well an energy audit we showed months ago has been used to improve energy conservation.
James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council joins in for more about the ballot referendum facing Michigan voters this November. Clift recognizes the risk involved in making this a constitutional question: whether to amend the state's constitution in order to achieve renewable enegy sourcing, but Clift points out the state's utilities are already under a legislative mandate until 2015. The new requirement would not change the rate of progress already underway by the state's utilities. And further, in the face of a legislature that has publicly announced it will not deal with energy until after 2015, Clift argues there is no alternative to direct voter action. Electric utilities are facing a big era of change as coal plants are retired anyway, now is the time to direct the future of our energy resource and not simply leave it to market forces.
ICR begins two discussions on energy and specifically on the referendum appearing on this November's ballot, asking Michigan residents if they want to mandate that 25% of Michigan electricity needs come from renewable sources by the year 2025. This first discussion is with Jim MacInnes noted businessman as CEO of Crystal Mountain Resort where he has lead that success story towards an energy constrained future. MacInnes is also an electrical engineer and active in several areas of energy policy and action. Jim MacInnes shares his concerns about 25/25, and his experiences operating in the public realm where political discussion is isolating groups from each other. Part two of this discussion features James Clift of the Michigan environmental Council.
ICR takes a look at the work of local teacher, Bill Kouchy who three years ago publicly announced his plans for a local scale biodiesel production facility. Under the name Northwest Michigan Biodiesel, Kouchy's production facility is about to start up. Bill shares his experiences with technical development, financial pressures and decisions, and networking with others in the field. His financial decisions reflects the hurdles that exist to local investment in local-scale projects, his networking an example of building social capital. His ultimate plan includes local production of canola, food grade canola oil to be used in local restaurants, and that oil recycled into biodiesel fuel to be used principally as local farm machinery fuel. A totally local loop!
This edition brings back Brian Beauchamp and Mike Powers to fill us in on energy news and happenings in energy planning, here in the Bay area. Both guests work for non-profits that are partnering with Traverse City Light and Power in a pioneering program, TCSaves, retrofitting homes for energy efficiency and money saving in the core of Traverse City. They report on the dramatic expansion of the project to include all of Traverse City. This program may lead the broader region over the tipping point and result in a huge increase in the energy efficiency of our business and residential buildings. Forty percent of our energy use is in buildings. This discussion starts with a quick review of energy consultant, Peter Garforth's thoughts on that: Take on energy use and efficiency first, and all other steps to full energy resilience will follow; fail to do that and all else will fail, as well.
This discussion begins with Bill Queen continuing to emphasize how fragile and expensive our current electrical grid is. It is a huge system of centralized power generation distributing electricity over long distances. A future, more resilient system, will be many sources of power generation, on very localized scales, called a distributed power system. Bill spends much of this discussion showing the data supporting solar voltaic generation, even here in cloudy northwest Michigan as a valuable component to the distributed power system.
Kelly Ignace joins Dave for this edition of ICR, talking about her employer's one of a kind waste hauling and disposal business. Kelly is Director of Marketing and P.R. for American Waste, a locally owned and operated waste disposal business that runs a one of a kind operation on the south side of Traverse City.