alternative energy

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The Petoskey City Council unanimously approved a city-wide energy plan on Monday. It sets a goal of 100% renewable energy city-wide by 2035.

The plan is to replace fossil fuels with solar, wind and hydro-power to supply electricity for all Petoskey residents and businesses. 

Petoskey Mayor John Murphy says the city's investments in coal plants will terminate by 2030.

"We're moving away from coal, moving away from fracking and going into total renewable energy," he said. "It's going to be good for generations to come." 

Wind energy became popular because it can reduce the need for polluting coal and gas generated electricity. But, things are shifting now.

“The primary driver is economics,” said Stanley “Skip” Pruss with Five Lakes Energy, a consulting firm on sustainable energy.

The Next Idea

 

So many innovative ideas begin with inventors observing simple events. Take Newton’s falling apple, for example, or Archimedes’ overflowing bathtub. 

For Emil Ureel of West Michigan, it was building an ice rink in his backyard — or rather designing a refrigeration system to keep it from melting.

 

I thermodynamically ended up producing a chiller system from a used central air unit,” Ureel said. “Going through the process, I learned something related to thermodynamics that’s referred to as saturation vapor pressure.”

The Next Idea

Earth’s water is a natural medium for collecting energy, taking in about 97% of what we receive from the sun. After reflection and radiation, water stores over 2 million TWh (terawatt hours) per year. The world’s annual energy consumption is about 150,000 TWh. Clearly, we could benefit from using water for power.

Last week, amid the frenzy that followed the presidential election, the Michigan Senate passed a pair of bills that would mean a dramatic overhaul of Michigan’s energy policy. The bills, which still have to make it through the Michigan House of Representatives, would be the first new energy policy in Michigan since 2008.

We spoke with Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief, about the new legislation. He told us that, although the two bills both had bipartisan support and passed by wide margins, they also have detractors.

Living off the grid can be a lot of work, but Joe and Shelly Trumpey and their two daughters have managed it for years. Their home is near Grass Lake in Jackson County. Finished in 2009, the home relies on straw bale insulation, solar power year-round, wood burning in the winter and efficient construction to keep it running.