COLDWATER — The Coldwater Board of Public Utilities wants more help to meet Michigan’s new clean energy laws.
Wednesday, the board agreed to hire Orlando, Florida’s nFront Consulting LLC engineering firm to analyze and advise the city power system on Michigan’s recently passed clean energy and climate legislation.
The two laws signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer require utilities to provide 80% clean energy by 2035 and 100% by 2040.
The law commits power providers to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 60% by 2035.
The bills set standards and requirements for renewable clean energy, carbon reductions, and energy waste reduction goals.
Clean energy is the generation of energy that does not produce greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy is the generation of energy from sources that can be replenished naturally over time. The differences between the two have different implications for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
What qualifies and how to get there is the question. The current legislation on what sources qualify and how much credit is given in each category is unclear to CBPU.
CBPU expects in-state green energy credits from interest the city owns in AMP hydroelectric plants on the Ohio River under a 2000 state law. Those plants produced 11% of CBPU power in 2023.
Utility director Paul Jakubczak said, “Due to the complexity of these ever-changing energy markets, our staff wishes to seek outside expertise to help supplement our internal resources.”
American Public Power, a joint action agency through the Michigan South Central Power Agency, is making recommendations and setting up future power contracts for local municipal power supplies.
Jakubczak wants the consulting firm to “Take all of our data and look at all of our current power supply contracts and determine if we’re on the right path.”
The CBPU director said he wants a report that identifies potential future energy and demand requirements and then considers “associated risks and benefits to the customers” who pay for them in power bills.
Board member John Wellet was concerned about the impact of the laws. He asked, “What if businesses and the population start leaving? It’s great to be net zero. But what are some of the unintended consequences?” Wellet hopes nFront can answer that question.
The open-ended contract estimated cost is around $100,000 for the Integrated Resource Plan. There is no deadline.
As a CBPU engineering service contract, there are no bid requirements.
Jakubczak said other firms consulted were around the same cost.
The director said nFront Consulting worked in Michigan and with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the grid operator.
Jakubczak is familiar with nFront Consulting through his former position as the director of Electric and Gas Systems for Ft. Pierce, Florida.
— Contact Don Reid: dReid@Gannett.com