Thursday, May 03, 2018

WUPPDR offers program to help reduce small business energy costs

Logo courtesy WUPPDR.

HOUGHTON -- Businesses looking to lower their energy bills can now make more informed investment decisions thanks to a grant awarded to the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR). WUPPDR, which received the grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), will pay up to 75 percent of the cost of commercial energy audits and assessments to help local businesses identify opportunities to reduce energy expenses and target resources to pay for energy waste reduction investments.

The program is a partnership between WUPPDR and Michigan Energy Options, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing communities’ access to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The program reviews both common energy conservation measures (ECMs) such as lighting and building envelope improvements, as well as more advanced ECMs like smart thermostats, building control technologies, and renewable energy. In addition to receiving a report with specific energy efficiency recommendations and cost saving projections, participating businesses with be connected with existing resources to help finance energy efficiency investments.

"There are a number of programs out there to help businesses reduce their energy expenses, but it can be confusing and time-consuming to track them down, find the right fit, and complete the necessary paperwork," said Brad Barnett, program coordinator. "At the end of the day, we want to help businesses save energy and money, so we plan to work with them to capitalize on the audit’s recommendations."

Participating businesses can choose from two different program options: a Level I energy assessment or a Level II energy audit.  The Level I assessment offers an on-site consultation with an energy services professional to identify energy waste-reduction best practices and is geared toward small businesses looking to better understand their utility bills and opportunities for improvement. The Level II audit is a data-intense evaluation of on-site energy consumption and analysis of fuel, electricity, and water bills and usage for trend analysis and industry benchmarking. Return on investment (ROI) and payback period calculations are also provided to help businesses evaluate trade-offs of different energy efficiency investments.

"Investing in energy waste reduction is a safe and predictable way to improve a business’s bottom line," says Barnett. "Spending less on energy frees up capital for other forms of business investment, and the savings from some projects pay for themselves in a year or two."

To obtain more information about the program or to schedule an audit, visit www.wuppdr.org/energy-audits; or contact Brad Barnett, Program Coordinator, at (906) 482-7205, ext. 316 or bbarnett@wuppdr.org.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

MDEQ to hold public meeting, hearing on permit application to dredge stamp sands in Houghton County TODAY, May 1, at Michigan Tech

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This press release was sent by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on April 30, 2018. We regret this last-minute posting.]

What: The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is hosting an information session to answer questions and a public hearing to receive comment on a permit application by Torch Lake Industries, Inc., regarding proposed dredging of Lake Superior stamp sands.

When: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, 2018: Public information session including an opportunity for Q and A with MDEQ staff, MDEQ presentations regarding the permit application process and Part 325 statute and a presentation by a Michigan Tech official regarding previous studies on stamp sands.

6 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Public comment period.

9 p.m.: Public hearing concludes.

Where:
Michigan Technological University
Alumni Lounge, Memorial Union Building
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
NOTE: Michigan Tech has provided for a "call in" line for multiple people unable to attend the meetings to call and listen in to today's Info Session from 2-4 p.m. and to the hearing from 6-9 p.m. The number is 906-487-1627.

Background:
Torch Lake Industries, Inc. is requesting a permit to mechanically and/or hydraulically dredge an estimated 33,528,422 cubic yards of stamp sands waterward of the ordinary high water mark of Lake Superior in Stanton Township, Houghton County (extending from the Graveraet River approximately 13 miles northeast to the North Portage Entry). The company applied for a Great Lakes Submerged Lands permit (under Part 325 of Michigan’s NREPA, 1994 PA 451) in October of 2015 with MDEQ’s Water Resources Division.

Written public comments that pertain to the proposed Lake Superior submerged lands project are being accepted by MDEQ through May 11, 2018. Comments may be submitted online through MiWaters or by mail to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Upper Peninsula District Office, 1504 W Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855.

Please note this information session and hearing pertain to Stanton Township stamp sands only. These meetings will not address projects proposed in other stamp sand areas.

For links to the public notice and application in MiWaters, please visit www.mi.gov/wrd or https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/.