MIDLAND DAILY NEWS: Glenn bill bolsters Sanford Dam, renewable energy

A bill introduced in the Michigan legislature will direct the state utility commission to implement federal rules that promote and encourage the development of cogeneration and small power production facilities, such as the Sanford Dam.

State Rep. Gary Glenn, vice chair of the House Energy Policy Committee, introduced House Bill 5015 to direct the Michigan Public Service Commission to adopt the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA), part of the National Energy Act of 1978. PURPA encourages the conservation and efficient use of energy resources by developing and employing alternative power supplies to displace traditional sources.

Sanford_Dam_photo.jpgLee W. Mueller, right, architect and co-member manager of Boyce Hydro LLC, which operates Sanford Dam, talks with state Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, vice chair of the House Energy Policy Committee.

“PURPA’s goal is to develop a diverse and stable array of sustainable energy resources from the public and private sectors to the highest degree possible,” said Glenn, R-Midland. “Making sure the major utilities are complying with the federal law for renewable energy sources in a competitive market will provide a secure energy service that is less costly for ratepayers.”

PURPA also requires electric utilities in need of additional power to purchase the energy at reasonable costs, under reasonable terms and conditions, from the smaller providers.

Lee W. Mueller, architect and co-member manager of Boyce Hydro LLC, which operates Sanford Dam, applauded Glenn’s introduction of HB 5015.

“This bill reaffirms existing federal law to provide the legal and regulatory foundation for the long-term continuation of power-purchase agreements between Michigan’s independent renewable energy power producers and the state’s regulated public utilities,” Mueller said. “Michigan’s free-market business entrepreneurs, who put their own capital at risk in order to produce reliable renewable energy, will continue to have future business viability, which in turn provides employment for many individuals, and supports the economy of numerous communities throughout the state.”

The Sanford Dam creates the Sanford Lake reservoir on the Tittabawassee River, a popular recreation area for Midland County residents and visitors from the surrounding region.

A 2013 study commissioned by local homeowners and lake preservation associations pegged the economic value of the dam and lake to the area at $4.5 million, beyond electrical generation. The annual energy output of the Sanford Dam and Hydro Station is around 12,000 MWh per year, enough to power about 1,000 homes for a year.

Glenn’s bill provides MPSC oversight to ensure that the energy supply agreements and costs between independent hydroelectric, biomass and landfill gas owners and major utility companies are in the public interest and benefit the citizens of Michigan.

HB 5015 is before the House Energy Policy Committee for consideration.

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