Final Public Forum Provides Answers to Renewable Energy Questions

For Immediate Release


Contact:  Ed Rice, Executive Director, Traverse City Light & Power

                Phone: (231) 932-4559 or E-mail:

Contact:  Phil Callighan, Sr. Account Executive, Knorr Marketing

    Phone: (231) 947-9707, ext. 207; Mobile: (231) 342-7590

                or E-mail:


Final Public Forum Provides Answers to Renewable Energy Questions

Proposed Wood Biomass Plant Seen as Lowest Cost,

Lowest Emissions Option for Dependable Renewable Energy    


(Traverse City, Michigan) — In its third and final public forum on generating power with local renewable resources, Traverse City Light & Power (TCL&P) told more than 170 attendees Wednesday (4-7-10) night that it was diversifying its energy portfolio by pursuing wind energy, solar energy, landfill gas, and energy efficiency with more purpose proportionally any other utility in Michigan.


That strategy is consistent, said Ed Rice, the TCL&P executive director, with the findings from two previous public forums. During those forums, which attracted 300 participants on February 25 and 27, customers and citizens said they supported the utility’s goal of generating power locally with a diverse array of renewable resources.


Still, said Rice Wednesday night, TCL&P will need to acquire baseload energy that generates electricity 24/7, 365 days a year. Baseload energy cannot be generated from intermittent sources and could not be achieved with wind or solar power. TCL&P has proposed filling a portion of its baseload need by constructing a 10-megawatt state-

of-the-art combined heat and power wood biomass gasification plant.


Rice said such a plant fits the utility’s goal of using local renewable resources and is a departure from current generating practices. All but one percent of TCL&P’s energy is provided by coal (95 percent) or natural gas (four percent). 


Rice made public new data that showed a wood biomass gasification plant would produce far less air emissions than a coal-fired plant, and would operate as cleanly as a natural gas-powered plant. 


“Diversification means we can begin moving away from fossil fuels,” Rice said. “And that is where we need to be.”


The proposed wood biomass plant, which would generate electricity and steam or heat, also would produce the lowest electric rates for the utility’s customers among all of the new generating sources – renewable and non-renewable – that the utility has studied.  


A biomass plant, which could be built in an industrial park on Parsons Road, would produce 100 jobs during construction, and 40 jobs during operations; half to manage the plant and half to supply and transport wood fuel on an on-going basis.


Also making presentations at the public forum were Bill O’Neill, a forester responsible for the coordination of Lower Peninsula state forestry activities for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Tom Stanton, coordinator of the Michigan Public Service Commission’s Michigan Renewable Energy Program; and Goutam Shahani, a chemical engineer and executive with Heat Transfer International, which constructs waste gasification generating plants. Summed up, the three experts said a wood biomass plant is clean to operate, fits the state’s goal of generating more of its energy from renewable resources, and that there was an ample supply of wood available that can be produced sustainably.


            Slides used in the forum presentations are posted on the TCL&P website.

The forum, which lasted over four hours, generated ample comments from those in attendance. Many people had questions about forest resources, plant emissions, and the proposed location. Others indicated support for generating electricity with hydropower, a source that TCL&P said it will not pursue because the community has decided to remove hydroelectric dams from theBoardmanRiver. Others said they supported the biomass proposal, including one wood supplier from Cadillac who said that Christmas tree farm waste could provide the plant with some fuel and reduce regional forest fire risks.


The TCL&P board is expected to vote on the 30BY20 plan and whether to proceed with additional studies for the proposed biomass plant on April 20.  


Traverse City Light & Power ( is a community-owned, community-focused municipal utility that offers energy at low rates in the region to over 11,000 customers in Traverse City, and parts of Blair, East Bay, Elmwood, Garfield, Peninsula and Paradise townships.

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