Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

* MRN – More Rules Needed: Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) approved an air permit for an asphalt plant to be operated by Ajax Materials Corp. in Genesee Township, MI; that’s near Flint, about 80 miles northwest of Detroit. EGLE writes that Ajax’s location is in “a neighborhood of color in social and economic distress.”The project met all regulatory requirements but EGLE’s boss – Liesl Clark – in a letter to USEPA stated that the process “…highlights the limitations of Federal and State environmental regulations in addressing the concerns raised by Flint residents.” This must have been a tortuous process: it drew over 340 comments from residents, environmental advocates and government agencies during the extended 83-day comment period, comments were overwhelmingly opposed to the facility. Most objections were outside the scope of EGLE’s authority. So, EGLE turned to USEPA for “guidance and support” to providing “tools and strategies to improve public health in at-risk communities.” This was a minor source permit, meaning emissions are below certain thresholds. How many permits for how many new and expanded factories, mines, asphalt plants, smelters, kilns, stacks, vents, pipes and on and on and on will be needed for the good American union jobs that are supposed to emerge from build back better? It’s gonna be sloooowwww…


* Remember, no penalties if you borrow from your 401(K):  At a roundtable discussion at COP26 a NJ utility executive said his company estimates it will cost the average homeowner $10,000 to convert a 2000 ft2 house with a gas heating system to electric. Add in a couple more thou if you need a new water heater and also need to upgrade your wiring and power to service that new heater. Ditto if you need to replace that nasty old gas stove with a nice shiny new electric one. Old house? Uh, well make sure that box in the basement has enough capacity for that new service. What the heck, you might as well replace the whole box too; that’s just a couple more grand. By the way, you may be good but don’t do this work yourself. You want to be around to enjoy the upgrades, if you know what I mean. Plus, you’ll need a permit and there’s a good chance the work will need to be inspected. One home advisor web site writes that the “typical price” for a permit is $1221 while the average is between $441 and $2001. In a big city? $7500! You small town peeps, though, got it made: about $100 bucks for the permit. Another plus: Your electric train set in the basement will have plenty of power unless, of course, your utility can’t keep up. Remember, permits are really hard to get…


* Check the Replay: On 11/18 the Federal Register contained a meeting notice for a DOE/FERC technical conference “Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection.” The meeting was actually scheduled for a few days prior – Monday, 11/15. (FR publication dates are not always timely.) The meeting is referenced here because it was a virtual meeting which means you can watch the replay, say, if you’re bored on Friday, after Thanksgiving. A transcript will also be available. Hopefully this new juice and transmission will be ready for all those homeowners from Secaucus and Upper Montclair going to go to Home Depot or Lowes on Friday to buy new electric heat pumps.

Have a great Thanksgiving!
Tom Ewing “reply” or 513-379-5526 voice/text