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Michigan PSC approves suite of low-carbon energy infrastructure grants


One grant funds study of CCS for 1.6 GW gas plant

Several grants for renewable natural gas projects

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  • Kate Winston
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  • Richard Rubin
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The Michigan Public Service Commission June 9 approved $50 million in low-carbon energy infrastructure grants to support projects such as energy storage, community solar, renewable natural gas and electric vehicle infrastructure.

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"The impact that these projects will have on the state of Michigan is impressive," said Katherine Peretick, a commissioner at the MPSC. "The estimated impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions just from these grants is well over 500,000 tons of [carbon dioxide] per year," she said at a meeting of the MPSC.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order in 2020 calling for economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. In 2022, the state outlined a plan to achieve that goal, including phasing out coal-fired power by 2030.

In 2022, Whitmer also signed into law two measures providing the $50 million funding for low-carbon energy infrastructure grants. The legislation required winning grants to support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, be supported by a cost-benefit analysis and reduce customer energy cost burdens, the MPSC said in a statement.

CCS study

One grant went to Midland Cogeneration Venture to study the feasibility of deploying carbon capture and sequestration at its plant. The natural gas-fired facility produces 1.6 GW of electricity, and also generates steam energy for nearby chemical production companies.

"This development will play a significant role in decarbonizing Michigan's electricity sector in the near term, with the potential for the first ton of [carbon dioxide] to be sequestered as early as 2029," according to the grant application.

The project's anticipated storage sites may only require two to three miles of pipeline, the application said. "We expect that the project will have a cost advantage due to local CO2 storage zones," the application said.

The project that won the largest share of the funds was the Lansing Board of Water and Light grid-scale battery energy storage system and ground-mounted solar project, which received $12 million. The Lansing BWL sought funding to develop a 4-MW solar PV project and four 43.1-MWh battery energy storage systems.

The solar and storage projects are part of the board's broader plan for the early retirement of the coal-fired, 154-MW Erickson power station and construction of a natural gas reciprocating internal combustion engine power plant, which will have future capability to crossfire using renewable hydrogen, according to the grant application.

Natural gas projects

The project that won the second-largest portion of the grants is a project by DTE Gas to expand gas distribution in several counties that currently rely on propane for home heat and cooking.

Grants also went to several renewable natural gas projects. The grants to the Consumers Energy Swisslane Farm RNG project and the Consumers Energy TDI Farm RNG project will partially fund plans to use anaerobic digesters to turn dairy farm animal manure into biogas, which is then processed to meet gas pipeline specifications.

And one grant went to the Kent County Bioenergy Facility, which will use an anaerobic digester to turn municipal solid waste into renewable gas.

Another grant went to the Kalamazoo Nature Center to develop an electric vehicle infrastructure plan.