Public Service Commission trims Consumer’s buyout proposal for Palisades
By Jon Bisnett
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved just over $142 million for the securitization plan Consumers Energy Co. has proposed to buying out the remainder of its Palisades nuclear plant power purchase agreement with Entergy Nuclear Palisades, LLC.
New Orleans based Entergy has the Palisades site slated to close in October 2018, assuming the MPSC agrees to terminate the current contract Entergy has to sell electricity to Consumers on terms agreeable to all parties. The decision of Tuesday, September 19, 2017 is significantly short of the $172 million Consumers requested for its payment to Entergy along with $12.6 million for transaction costs.
PANTHERS PROWL FOR HOMECOMING WIN… Wa-tervliet topped off Homecoming Week by celebrating as the var-sity football team took the field for their home game against Ka-lamazoo United. The Panthers, after struggling in the first half, went on to claim a 52-34 victo-ry. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)
The MPSC approved just over $142 million for securitization bonds with roughly $5.5 million in transaction costs, leaving only $136 million for Consumers’ proposed payment to Entergy.
If Consumers and Entergy come to a formal buyout agreement, it will then be up to Entergy as to whether it will follow through with its plan to permanently close the nuclear plant in Van Buren County’s Covert Township. Consumers’ Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is currently scheduled through the end of April, 2022.
Both companies insist that the remaining cost of the PPA is actually higher than the projected cost of buying energy and capacity on the open market. They further claim that even with a buyout, Consumers’ Energy customers will save money in the long term.
The commissioners agreed in a statement; “Even if Consumers no longer receives power from Palisades, the Commission recently determined that the Midwest region has adequate electricity supplies over the next five years, based on available forecasts.”
The Commission in its decision cautioned the importance for Consumers to proceed quickly and efficiently to firmly secure electrical capacity to replace the 800 MW of power it gets via the Palisades contract.
Consumers said it will replace the power from Palisades by increasing energy waste reduction, boosting commercial and industrial demand and expanding its Cross Winds Energy Farm. It will also continue to operate its older generation plants to supply power during high demand periods.
The MPSC says Consumers would be allowed to recover the $142.1 million through surcharges on full-service electric customers’ bills for approximately six years after the bonds are sold, which Consumers anticipates will be in June 2018.
The Palisades plant was originally built for the Consumers Power Company back in 1971, at which time it was the second such nuclear facility on the Lake Michigan Shoreline. Consumers Energy sold the Covert plant to Entergy in 2007 under an agreement to then buy power from the facility.
At a recent open house held by Entergy, plant officials made it very clear that despite the impending shut-down, site VP Charlie Arnone stated, “There will be no shortcuts taken when it comes to matters of safety and reliability…”
Some 600 jobs and the fate Van Buren County’s largest property tax payer hang in limbo as the Covert Township site moves closer to Entergy’s plan to go dark in the fall of 2018.
While the MPSC has no regulatory role in the plant’s closing, the State of Agency for Energy works with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Should the plant close; the shutting down of the nuclear systems and storage of spent fuel is overseen by the NRC, with Entergy responsible for site remediation and storing nuclear fuel. The process can extend as much as 60 years.
The Tri-City Record will continue to follow the developing
Hartford City begins search for new ambulance service
HELPFUL SIGNAGE… such as pictured here is placed at parking areas and boat landings on the Paw Paw River in Coloma and Watervliet by the “Friends of the Paw Paw River”. The “Friends have collected funds and spearheaded clearing and access to the river
By Nancy Albright
On September 25, 2017 Hartford City Council members appointed an ambulance selection committee tasked with reviewing proposals for a new emergency services provider.
The city voted not to renew its contract with Medic 1 Ambulance, which has been in effect since 1988. The current contract will terminate in February of 2018.
The Ambulance Service RFP Committee will consist of City Commissioners John Miller and Terry Tibbs, Hartford Chief of Police Tressa Beltran, Hartford Fire Chief Rob Harting, and the council plans to ask Van Buren County 9-1-1 Dispatch Director Tim McGee to round out the team.
In recent months the commission has been dissatisfied with Medic 1’s performance with respect to continuous coverage in the event of short-term emergency transfers, and that Medic 1 does not communicate directly through the system used by VBC to dispatch emergency vehicles.
At the August council meeting McGee explained that Medic 1, which covers both Van Buren and Berrien counties, does not have the capability to communicate directly with 9-1-1 dispatch via the ProQA Priority Dispatch System used by VBCD to coordinate emergency services in its coverage area.
The city would also like to use vehicles equipped with Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) tracking systems used by dispatch to determine the geographic locations of vehicles at all times as a means to effectively manage ambulance travel throughout the county.
The group plans to review proposals by October 10, 2017 to ensure the new provider is in place by February of next year.
Main Street Christmas decorations in the works
Judy Loomis attended Monday’s meeting to request that the council again fund the decoration of Main Street for Hartford’s Christmas holiday season.
The council agreed to contribute $1,300 to purchase weather-proof garland and large white glitter snowflakes to hang from the light posts on the downtown thoroughfare. Loomis pointed out that the garland and snowflakes are a good investment because they will weather several winter seasons. She is working with 52/60 Designs to purchase the decorations at cost.
The funds will also cover garland, wreaths and ribbons for City Hall, and decorating the urns on either side of the Ely Park sign facing Main.
New city board members appointed
The council accepted the resignation of Scott Sinclair from the Downtown Development Association and appointed Jeremiah Smith of Coin Express to take Sinclair’s place on the board.
Tamara Mcglothlin was appointed to the Planning & Zoning Board, and Henry Winchester was appointed as the City’s Deputy Electrical Inspector.
Reminders from City Hall
The city would like to remind residents that the last day to register to vote in the November 17, 2017 election is Tuesday, October 10, 2017, and Friday, October 27, 2017 is the last day to register as a write-in candidate for City Council and Mayoral seats. Visit cityofhartfordmi.org or call (269) 621-2477 for voting registration information.
Coloma citizens worried about ordinances and the lack of an enforcement officer
By Christina Gelder
Alice Mow of W. St. Joseph Street attended the Monday, September 25 meeting of the Coloma City Commission to discuss ordinance violations. She had pictures with her of her neighbor’s rental and expressed concern about there not being an ordinance officer to deal with the situation.
Previously the City of Coloma was contracted with Coloma Township Police to share an officer. That contract ended in 2016 and was extended a year. In July it was determined that the Township would no longer be sharing that service with them. The City proceeded to put an ad in the Tri-City Record in search of someone to fill the position but so far, they have received no written responses per their request. Commissioner Julie Smith called for the ad to be rerun, and Commissioner Jason Hicks suggested that it also be put in the Herald-Palladium to reach a wider audience.
Later in the meeting, resident Sieg Freitag jumped into the conversation. He expressed dissatisfaction with the
MENASHA CORPORATION FOUNDATION… recently donated a generous $900 to the Paw Paw River Project. This money will be used to-ward improving the Colo-ma/Watervliet Trail Site. The Coloma Watervliet Area Eco-nomic Development Corporation (CWAEDC) was very grateful for the donation as much work has been done this past year to clear the river between Watervliet and Coloma as part of a larger clean-up project. Pictured (from the left): Back row – Shelly Holt, Kelly Harris, Dee Derrow, Vickie Kirby, Chana Kniebes and Rick Rasmussen; Front row – Coloma City Mayor Jim Polashak and General Manager of Menasha Packaging Coloma, Luke Arendash.
current ordinance revisions and with the way they are being enforced. “This City is a pit,” said Freitag. “It is in extreme need of ordinance enforcement.”
There was a discussion about parking on lawns, and the fact that the Chief of Police, Jason Roe, has stated they cannot go on to private property in order to prove an ordinance violation. Freitag, as well as Commissioner Smith question the legality of that.
Freitag told the commission that they were “going to start a storm” if they hired someone who began enforcing the ordinances diligently. “You are going to catch a lot of heck,” he said, “because it has been let go for so long.”
Commissioner Hicks agreed that it needs to be dealt with but said, “I also don’t want someone to come into the City and start breaking laws.”
The Mayor told Alice Mow that it may take some time but they are working on the issue and will not give up.
Trick or Treat times set
It was approved by the commission to hold Halloween in the Park on Saturday, October 28 from 3:00 pm. to 5:00 p.m. This year will be slightly different with more of a trunk-or-treat feel. They will still be serving hot dogs and many other goodies.
Trick or treating to the Coloma residents was approved for Tuesday, October 31 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The times were split this year to try and cut down on the number of children in some Coloma neighborhoods.
A variance was also approved for the Halloween in the Park banner to be hung in Baker Park for the entire month of October.
Construction Board of Appeals
According to building inspector Butch Kelley a Construction Board of Appeals needed to be created. This board will allow him to bring any issues, such as a house needing to be condemned to them for final decision.
The commission voted to establish this board with the following members: Chris Brooks, Dave Boelcke, Brian Davis, Kevin Stewart, and Ross Rogien.
In other news Rick Rasmussen attended the meeting to show off the new signs that will be placed at the different access points along the Paw Paw River. He is part of a group that has been working hard to clean the river up and make it a great destination for kayaks, canoes, etc. He said the best place to find updates is www.facebook.com/swmpc. That is the Southwest Michigan Planning Commissions Facebook page and they post updates on the river conditions regularly.
The commission also voted to purchase new tires for their Scag lawn mower. The cost is $702.40 for Louis Gelder & Sons. Commissioner Marsha Hammond said that the mower has been in service almost 20 years and this is the first time the tires have been replaced.