Environmental Initiatives: Resource Planning for a Cleaner Energy Future 

    As a municipal utility, the BWL conducts business in a manner consistent with its commitments to the local communities it serves. The BWL believes that meeting or exceeding environmental standards will have a positive long-term impact on the economy and health of the greater Lansing region. Accordingly, the BWL prioritizes environmental stewardship and sustainability in each stage of planning and operations.    

    In 2007, as Michigan’s first utility to adopt a renewable energy standard, the BWL committed to sourcing seven percent of retail electric sales from renewables by 2015. Also in 2007, the BWL embarked upon the development of a comprehensive energy efficiency program.[1] Both initiatives, renewable energy and energy efficiency, have been effective in reducing BWL’s consumption of fossil fuels.    

    In 2010, the BWL owned and operated fourteen coal-fired generation units.[2] Only three years later, this number had been cut in half.[3] The 2013 debut of the REO Town Plant marked an important milestone in a long-term plan to completely eliminate coal consumption at the BWL. A cogeneration facility powered by cleaner natural gas, REO allowed the BWL to replace seven coal-fired units.  

    REO Town’s two combustion turbines are each paired with a heat recovery steam generator, which provides steam to a third steam turbine or central steam customers. REO’s heat rate (8000 HHV) represents a thirty percent improvement in efficiency over Eckert’s generating units (11,300 HHV). The REO Plant, which went on to win awards for safety and enegineering, reflects the BWL’s leadership in cleaner energy and energy waste reduction.   

    In 2016, the BWL published its most recent Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The IRP resulted from a community-based effort which began the prior year.  A community-based IRP offered interested locals the opportunity to participate in the planning process, while also helping the BWL build community support for its resource plans. The Citizens Advisory Committee produced an IRP which recommended sourcing 30 percent of the BWL’s electricity from clean energy sources by the end of 2020 and 40 percent by the end of 2030. The IRP is available in its entirety at www.LBWL.com/InvestorRelations. To meet the 2020 goal, the BWL is in the process of acquiring 20 percent of its retail sales from new renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar, in the mid-Michigan area.    

    The Citizens Advisory Committee’s recommendations also included new generation from natural gas to replace the capacity of the BWL’s existing generation units at the coal-fired Eckert and Erickson stations. On March 27, 2018, the BWL Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the plan to build a new natural gas-fired power plant, which will be cleaner and more efficient than the facilities it replaces. The new units, collectively known as the Delta Energy Park, will provide base-load generation, peaking support and cycling to further complement the BWL’s growing investments in supplying renewable energy. The three remaining Eckert Station coal units are scheduled to retire in 2020. The Erickson Station and its coal unit will be retired in 2025.   

    With the last IRP published four years ago, the BWL is undertaking a new community-based IRP to update its long-term electric resource plans. The 2019 plan is currently in the initial stages and is expected to result in a schedule for adoption of additional renewable energy, growth in the BWL’s demand-management program (energy efficiency and load management), and options which leverage the recently-deployed advanced metering infrastructure. The BWL expects the community-based IRP to be completed and presented to the Board of Commissioners in early 2020. 


    Energy Efficiency Programming

    In 2007, the BWL began plans for a comprehensive energy efficiency program. In 2008, the State of Michigan promulgated renewable energy and energy efficiency standards for all utilities providing natural gas or electric services within Michigan.[4] Michigan Public Act 295 of 2008 required utilities to reach a standard of at least 10 percent clean energy in 2015, and to reduce retail electric consumption by 1 percent annually beginning 2012. The Act was amended in 2016 with the renewable energy standard increased to 12.5 percent in 2019 and 2020, and 15 percent in 2022. The 1 percent annual energy efficiency goal for municipal utilities remains unchanged. The state will no longer require annual compliance filings for municipal utilities after 2021.    

    The BWL has historically met or exceeded all statutory requirements related to energy efficiency savings and renewables. 


    Env Stewardship - energy efficiency


    In 2016, the BWL Board of Commissioners adopted an updated Strategic Plan that requires the BWL to expand its renewable energy portfolio and its energy efficiency savings after 2020. The BWL expects the forthcoming IRP to recommend targets for future energy efficiency savings.   


    Environmental Initiatives   

    1. Dramatic Reductions in Coal Consumption and Atmospheric Emissions 

    Coal-fired power plants are signifcant emitters of nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). By transitioning to cleaner energy sources and renewables, the BWL has simultaneously reduced both its emissions and dependence on coal. The BWL is committed to continuous progress in emission reductions, both before and after the replacement of coal.With the growth of its renewable energy portfolio, continued investment in energy efficiency programming, construction of additional gas-fired generation and the closure of its coal plants in 2020 and 2025, the BWL has charted a cleaner energy future. The BWL expects its 2026 carbon dioxide emissions to be 80 percent lower than in 2005.


    The BWL’s efforts have already resulted in a dramatic reduction in coal consumption and air emissions.


    Env Stewardship - Coal Consumption


    Env Stewardship - Air Emmission Reduction


    The BWL expects continued reduction of its annual coal consumption to culminate in the complete elimination of coal generation in Lansing after 2025. The BWL will achieve this through continued integration of additional generation from natural gas and renewables.   

    1. A Proactive Approach to Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR)

    The BWL has fueled its power plants with coal for over 100 years. The resulting disposal of coal ash has impacted several parcels of property in the Lansing area. While those disposal practices were commonplace in the industry and entirely lawful at the time, they are no longer compatible with the BWL’s increased environmental consciousness. Therefore, in 2008, the BWL began a voluntary, five-year, $15.7 million project to remove ash from two of its three legacy sites:   

      Erickson Station—Excavation of ash from the storage cell adjacent to the power plant was completed in 2013. Since then, Erickson’s bottom ash is transported to a licensed municipal landfill for proper disposal. A small, lined temporary storage and decanting cell was installed in 2015. BWL has initiated a CCR regulatory compliance program including inspections of the impoundment’s structural integrity, maintenance of a fugitive dust plan, and beginning the installation of a groundwater-monitoring network.   

    Comfort Street—Between 2009 and 2013, approximately 900,000 cubic yards of ash were excavated from this former landfill and disposed of in a licensed landfill. The entire site was backfilled with clean soil. Groundwater monitoring is underway in anticipation of obtaining approval for final site closure from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.  

    North Lansing Landfill—This former ash disposal site has been capped and contained. The BWL is meeting its remediation obligations by utilizing a slurry wall and four groundwater extraction wells.  The wells discharge to the to the sanitary sewer system for treatment.  

    Eckert Station has never had an ash impoundment or landfill onsite and is therefore not impacted by this rule. The BWL’s comprehensive approach to addressing its legacy CCR sites is not only the best approach for the good of the environment, it should also foreclose or mitigate future regulatory or citizen suit actions pertaining to the BWL’s CCR.  


    Drinking Water Quality

    In December 2016, the BWL completed a 12-year, $44.5 million-dollar Lead Service Line Replacement Program (LSLR). The BWL was the first utility in Michigan and the second in the United States to remove all its lead service lines. In 2018, the State of Michigan promulgated a more stringent Lead and Copper Rule, effectively reducing the lead action level below the federal standard. There are several revisions to the rule that will impact Michigan drinking water utilities including the BWL. However,  the BWL is ahead of the regulatory curve, for example, regarding the requirement to inventory distribution system materials. The BWL can therefore take advantage of the cost savings associated with reduced sampling requirements. As a trailblazer in lead replacement, the BWL has been a go-to resource for utilities and regulatory authorities seeking to follow in BWL’s footsteps.   

    In addition to lead, another water quality issue that has seen increased public awareness is the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Instead of waiting on federal guidelines, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has directed the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to begin developing drinking water standards for PFAS. This is another instance where the BWL is positioned ahead of most utilities, as the BWL has been testing for PFAS since 2015. PFAS testing in 2015 and 2018 revealed no PFAS compounds present in the BWL’s finished water.    

    The BWL  has a demonstrated history of providing customers with safe, clean and affordable drinking water.  By continually monitoring for changes in water quality, the BWL meets or exceeds state and federal standards for drinking water purity. A link to the latest annual BWL Water Quality Report may be found at www.lbwl.com/water.


    Sustainability and Pollution Prevention

    Since 2005, the BWL has been a member of the Michigan Business Pollution Prevention Program through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. To remain in the program, businesses must establish, track and report goals annually to show persistent efforts to reduce their impact on the environment and promote a more sustainable future.    

    In 2017, the BWL implemented a composting program for employees at BWL facilities. Education on composting and recycling expanded greatly in 2018, when BWL composting volume increased 40 percent from the previous year. For every five cubic yards of compost material the BWL produces, a cubic yard of finished compost is given to a not-for-profit garden project in the Lansing area. Additional sustainability efforts have resulted in increased recycling and decreased contributions to landfills.


    Env Stewardship - Recycling Measurements  

    The BWL’s Dye Water Conditioning Plant is the only water conditioning facility in the state to achieve Clean Corporate Citizen status as part of the Michigan Business Pollution Prevention Program. The BWL accomplished this by implementing and maintaining an Environmental Management System which has improved plant efficiency while reducing environmental impact. For example, tons of calcium carbonate sludge from Dye have been repurposed for soil products rather than being sent to a landfill.[6]    

    As of 2019, the BWL began planting native pollinators at two wellhead sites. Native pollinators are plant species that support bird, honeybee, buttefly and animal habitats, which will be reintroduced to BWL properties currently covered by grass. The conversion from grass to native pollinators has multiple benefits:

    • The pollinator species being planted at the BWL sites are native to Michigan and thus contribute to reversing human damage inflicted upon natural ecosytems. 
    •  The BWL will reduce fossil fuel consumption by discontinuing lawn mowing at the pollinator sites.  
    • The plants will improve groundwater quality, as their extensive roots provide greater filtration than those of grass.
    • Additional sites will be evaluated for conversion to native pollinators.


    This presentation contains “forward-looking statements.” Forward-looking statements include all statements that do not relate solely to historical or current fact. Forward-looking statements may be identified by use of words like “may, believe, will, expect, project, estimate, anticipate, approximate, plan” or “continue.” These forward-looking statements are based on the current plans and expectations of the BWL and are subject to a number of known and unknown uncertainties and risks. Many of these risks are beyond the BWL’s control and could significantly affect current plans, expectations, the BWL’s future financial position, and the results of operations. These factors include, but are not limited to: (i) changes in economic and fiscal conditions, (ii) the outcome of pending and any future litigation, and (iii) the requirements of any pending or future legislation at any level of government. Consequently, current plans, anticipated actions, future financial position, and results of operations may differ from those expressed in any forward-looking statements made by or on behalf of the BWL. All forward-looking statements are expressly qualified by the cautionary statements contained in this paragraph. Neither the BWL nor the City undertakes any duty to update any forward-looking statements.    

    [1] The BWL program predated the State of Michigan’s statutory adoption of energy efficiency standards.

    [2] Ten of the fourteen units generated electricity. Four of the units generated steam and were located at Moores Park. The steam generators provided for the BWL’s “central steam” customers in downtown Lansing.

    [3] Units that came offline between 2010-2013 were three turbines comprising half of Eckert Station, and all four steam turbines at Moores Park.

    [4] The State of Michigan now refers to energy efficiency as energy waste reduction.

    [5] Municipal recycling includes paper, carboard and plastic.

    [6] Calcium carbonate sludge is a byproduct of the water-conditioning process.


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