Traverse City's electric utility will move ahead with plans to build a wood burning biomass plant.
The Light and Power Board says this follows their long-range goal toward more renewable energy, and less reliance on coal. But some people continue to raise strong objections, especially about possible health effects of burning wood to generate electricity.
Two members of the Light and Power Board who fill elected City Commission seats voted against moving forward. They wanted to take a couple of more months to answer public concerns.
"I've been peppered with phone calls and e-mails over the past 48 hours. And I'm losing friends over this and I'm not happy about it," Commissioner Jim Carruthers says.
Carruthers says he's still fully in favor of biomass, in fact he's the one who originally pushed the idea of renewable energy. But he says voters are threatening not to re-elect him if he supports this project. He wants a couple of more months to listen to their concerns.
"We can't take responsibility for your friendships," replied Light & Power Board Chair Linda Johnson. She says the board has bent over backwards to hear from the public, and that it will continue to listen as the plan takes shape over the next year or two.
Board Vice-Chair Mike Coco says some people will never be satisfied and there are no perfect answers when it comes to generating power.
People are looking for the silver bullet," he says. "The silver bullet has zero impact on our society, on our culture and on our environment. And that does not exist."
More detailed studies for a biomass plant will take shape over the next year or two before the Board votes to fund the project.
Several members of the public said it appeared the Board merely went through the motions but didn't really listen to their concerns.
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