While environmental advocates are encouraged by the progress toward carbon neutrality, they prefer a more aggressive effort toward green power generation rather than a focus on carbon neutrality. Certainly, the relentless efforts on their part encouraged a formerly reluctant BWL to rely more on gas than coal. More important to them is beefing up efforts to encourage renewable energy. The advocates are concerned that a “carbon neutral” goal may diminish efforts toward a green energy goal. They see gas plants as an interim, not a final solution.
Beyond eliminating reliance on coal (with the exception of purchasing power from DTE’s Belle River coal-fired plant), BWL issued an All-Sources Request for Proposal to encourage energy solutions that include solar, wind and hydro, battery storage, thermal generations and efficiency programs. This demonstrates new openness to a variety of solutions to critical energy issues.
Our community is all the better for singularly focused environmental advocates working with BWL leadership that listens and moves toward an approach that will reduce but not eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Dick Peffley, BWL’s general manager, is leading a company that must consider energy dependability alongside environmental needs, balancing present needs against a precarious future. It’s not an easy needle to thread. We can all breathe a little better because BWL is no longer using coal and looking for green solutions. It’s a step in the right direction.
Yet, it’s becoming harder to see the good that the university produces after an almost decade-long era of controversy. Far too often, the Spartan logo has been splashed on global newscasts alongside headlines of sexual misconduct, coverup or violent acts. The school on the banks of the Red Cedar is becoming known to all for many of the wrong reasons. Still more, the revolving door of leadership has students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community at-large bewildered. The president’s seat has been occupied by four leaders since Lou Anna K. Simon’s unceremonious exit in 2018; couple this disarray with recent turnover on the board, including former Trustee Pat O’Keefe’s resignation in late November, and only discord and distrust remain. MSU adopted a strategic plan in September 2021, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a member of the campus community who could recall its goals, which are continually overshadowed by these changes and calamities. MSU is critical to the viability of the capital region and the state; we cannot continue languishing in flux and upheaval.
If there is a hopeful sign, it is the appointment of Provost Teresa Woodruff as interim president. Woodruff promotes culture, communication and community as her mantra for creating stability on campus. We need today’s university leadership to put petty disagreements and personal agendas aside, steady the ship with a steadfast administration and achieve its mission by centering on what’s good for the people of Michigan.
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