Environmental group pushes solar, wind energy in wake of Livingston Co. explosion

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Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:38 PM EDT
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Mich. (WNEM)- Environmental activists are pushing for cleaner energy in the wake of Thursday’s natural gas pipeline explosion just south of Fenton in Livingston County’s Tyrone Township.

The explosion shook homes in the area, and it left a large crater near center road and old US-23. Consumers Energy said there was a leak in the natural gas transmission line.

Environmentalists said this is an opportunity to promote cleaner energy like wind and solar as the Michigan Public Service Commission weighs approval of Consumer Energy’s proposed 15-year energy plan.

“This plan will impact how Consumers Energy customers power their homes and businesses,” Michigan League of Conservation Voters’ Government Affairs Director Nicholas Occhipinti said.  It’s important to get it right.”

Consumers Energy said its plan would end its use of coal to fuel electricity by 2025, use 90-percent clean energy resources by 2040, build nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar energy and save customers $650 million through 2040.

Advocacy groups complain the utility would end its use of coal by investing $1.4 billion in additional gas, which advocates say can be expensive and volatile as shown by Wednesday’s explosion.

Occhipinti would like to see it move to clean, affordable wind and solar energy as well as storage much sooner.

“We are looking to invest in those types of fuel sources that, you know, when something goes wrong, they say when there’s a solar spill it’s just a sunny day, and moving towards those cleaner, renewable fuels, it’s healthy for people. It’s safer for people,” Occhipinti said.

Consumers Energy said its plan would allow it to invest more heavily in renewable energy and continue to explore ways to lessen the impact on the environment.