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How Much Coal Ash is Produced in Michigan?

January 21st, 2019 | By Roger Kuznia

Home solar panels on roof

The great thing about electricity generated by solar panels is that it is clean and renewable. That stands in contrast to electricity generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, which emit massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. And in the case of coal-fired plants, there’s also the issue of coal ash. Michigan is among the states with a significant coal ash problem, even as power companies increasingly move away from this source of electricity generation.

According to a recent report by the Michigan Environmental Council, federal data shows that Michigan’s 13 largest coal plants generated more than 1.4 million tons of coal ash in 2016, with DTE Energy’s coal plant in Monroe accounting for more than half of that number (756,000 tons).

2016 Coal Combution Residual Generated by Plant

michigan-coal ash-fossil fuels-carbon dioxide

(Graphic via the Michigan Environmental Council)

Why is Coal Ash a Problem?

Coal ash is a significant concern because it contains toxic materials such as mercury, lead and arsenic, and it is typically stored in unlined basins near the coal-fired plants. Studies around the U.S. have shown that these materials have been shown to seep into groundwater, which prompts concern that it could at some point contaminate drinking water.

“The issue is these utilities just started monitoring this, so we’re still trying to gauge what the threat to drinking water could be,” said Charlotte Jameson, author of the Michigan Environmental Council report, per an interview with Nick Kipper of the Capital News Service. “We do know that if you let it go unchecked there will be unintended consequences 10, 20 or 30 years down the line.”

What Does the Data Show?

Data shows that Michigan’s power companies are moving to cleaner energy sources. The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that coal-fired power plants provided 37 percent of Michigan’s net electricity generation in 2017, a slight increase from 2016, but down from 50 percent three years earlier. But the thing is, natural gas is largely seen as the alternative, but it is still problematic in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, solar energy accounted for only 8 percent of Michigan’s net electricity generation in 2017, showing that clean energy sources are being underutilized.

Making the Change

Thing is, while power companies continue to turn over their power grids and continue to use these less-than-clean sources, you can add solar power with help from Pink Energy and save thousands of dollars over the lifespan of your solar system. Our solar panels come with a 30-year warranty, and with the rate of power in Michigan being among the highest in the nation, solar is a very attractive alternative. Why pay the power company when you can pay yourself?

Pink Energy would love to be the company you work with for your install. With our innovative solar program, Michigan homeowners (and those in the rest of our six-state footprint) can go solar for $0 up-front cost, save money on their electric bills, and generate their own energy. Please feel free to fill out the form below or contact Pink Energy at (877) 4-GO-Pink, and one of our solar representatives will help you determine whether your home qualifies for this solar program.

The future of clean energy is here, and we want you to be part of it.

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