Gov. Whitmer Appoints Katherine Peretick to the Michigan Public Service Commission

Press Release: Gov. Whitmer Katherine Peretick to the Michigan Public Service Commission 

Katherine L. Peretick currently serves as the director of engineering for NRStor, Inc., an energy storage project developer. Prior to her current position, she was a project engineering manager with General Compressiona grid-scale energy storage technology company. Peretick has also worked as a mechanical engineer with Vestas Wind Systems A/S in Denmark, India and Portland, Oregon, and was a member of their Leadership Development Program. In 2020, she was named to the Energy News Network 40 Under 40.  

Peretick is vice president of Advancing Women in Energy and a member of Michigan Clean Energy Leaders. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Engineering in Energy Systems Engineering from the University of Michigan. Peretick is appointed as an Independent and is succeeding Sally Talberg who has resigned to join the board of directors of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). She will join Chairman Dan Scripps and Commissioner Tremaine Phillips on the Commission and serve for a term commencing January 4, 2021 and expiring July 2, 2021.  

“Katherine is an independent thinker whose deep understanding of energy storage, renewable energy, and smart grid systems will help Michigan benefit from the changes taking place in the energy sector, said Governor Whitmer. “Katherine is more than qualified to work on behalf of Michiganders at the Commission. She will bring a fresh perspective and deep private sector leadership experience to the role and will be a tremendous asset for our state. “ 

“Katherine will be the first engineer in recent memory to serve as a member of the Michigan Public Service Commission, “ said MPSC Chairman Dan Scripps. “Her background and significant expertise in energy innovation will be a great addition to the Commission and will better enable it to fulfill its mission of protecting the public by ensuring safe, reliable, and accessible energy and telecommunications services at reasonable rates for Michigan’s resident." 

"I'm sincerely honored to have the opportunity to join the Michigan Public Service Commission and continue the great work being done to ensure safe, reliable, and accessible energy and telecommunications services with long-term affordability,” said Peretick. “I'm looking forward to continuing the legacy of former Chairman Sally Talberg's dedication to fair and balanced regulation in conjunction with continuing Commissioner Phillips and Chairman Scripps."  

The mission of the Michigan Public Service Commission is to ensure safe, reliable, and accessible energy and telecommunications services at reasonable rates for Michigan residents. 

This appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

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MDHHS Releases New Gathering Guidelines

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has announced new gathering guidelines to replace the Nov. 18 "Pause to Save Lives" that was set to expire on December 20. This new order will take effect on Dec. 21 and continue through Jan. 15, 2021. The new guidelines allow for in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues. Casinos, bowling centers and movie theatres will be allowed to reopen with total capacity capped at 100; food and drink concessions closed; and social distancing requirements in place.

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MDHHS Releases COVID-19 Vaccination Prioritization Guidance

MDHHS has set an initial operational goal of vaccinating 70 percent of individuals 16 years of age or older, or about 5.6 million people, for COVID-19 by the end of 2021.

Full details for the rollout can be found at the MDHHS COVID–19 vaccine website.

Phase 1A includes paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have direct or
indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials and are unable to work from home, as well
as residents of long-term care facilities.

Phase 1B includes workers in essential and critical industries, including workers with unique
skill sets such as non-hospital or non-public health laboratories and mortuary services.

Phase 1C includes people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical
conditions, and people 65 years and older.

Phase 2 is a mass vaccination campaign for all individuals 16 years and older.

*MDHHS notes that, that vaccination in one phase may not be complete before vaccination in another phase begins. There may be vaccination of individuals in different phases that occurs simultaneously. The timing of the start of vaccination in a phase is dependent on the supply of vaccine from the manufacturer, how vaccine is allocated from the federal level to Michigan, and the capacity to administer the vaccine to populations.

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Two weeks remain to join more than 100,000 essential workers applying for tuition-free college

The Governor's office has released a reminder for Michigan's essential workers to apply for the Futures for Frontlines Program. 

For Immediate Release:

Two weeks remain to join more than 100,000 essential workers applying for tuition-free college  

Futures for Frontliners application deadline is Dec. 31, state touts new regional career data and numerous opportunities for free education leading to high-demand, high-wage careers 

LANSING, Mich. – With the Futures for Frontliners application deadline approaching, frontline workers are encouraged to take the next step in their educational journey and apply for free college tuition towards an associate degree or industry-recognized certificate at community college by Dec. 31 – even if they have not completed their high school diploma.  

“Our frontline workers put their lives on the line every day to provide crucial support to our families during this pandemic, and they deserve support long after this crisis is over. That’s what the Futures for Frontliners program is all about. I encourage everyone who is eligible to take advantage of this free path to a degree or skills certificate they’ve been dreaming about,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “This initiative is not only a way to say, ‘thank you,’ it’s an opportunity to provide a pathway to better paying jobs. Remember, Michiganders: mask up, practice safe social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. We will get through this together.”  

Since the program launch in early September, 100,000 essential workers have applied and will soon be on their way to completing a tuition-free degree or skills certificate – putting them on a path to fill one of the state’s most in-demand careers. 

“By closely following the labor trends in our state we’ve learned that prioritizing the talent needs is essential to economic growth and prosperity for all,” Kerry Ebersole, Office of Sixty by 30 director said. “Creating equal access to education opens doors to develop skills that put hardworking Michiganders in a high-demand career, increase pay and fulfill dreams for those seeking a better quality of life for themselves and their families.” 

The state has released new regional career data that outlines in-demand occupations by education and training requirements. Commonly across the state there is job growth in a broad range of sectors, including healthcare, information technology and professional trades among others, with salaries for the majority of these in-demand careers coming in well above area averages. No matter where you are in the state or on your career path, state officials encourage Michiganders to explore in-demand careers and the free or low-cost programs to make those career goals a reality.   

Michiganders who may not qualify for free tuition through Futures for Frontliners are encouraged to explore other opportunities to earn college credit or a certificate free of charge through the states Sixty by 30 efforts aimed at ensuring 60% of working-age Michiganders have a degree or certificate beyond high school by 2030.  

Whether you’re just starting your career exploration or considering a change in profession, those interested in education beyond high school are encouraged to explore free education and training resources at Skills to Work, including opportunities to take College Board’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests for free through ModernStates.org. In early 2021, Michiganders age 25 and older will be able to apply for free college tuition through Michigan Reconnect – providing the tools necessary for every Michigander to find a rewarding career. 

“With more and more jobs requiring a highly-skilled workforce, we want to make sure people are looking at the top, growing career paths and getting linked up with free-opportunities to learn the skills needed to succeed,” Ebersole added.  

Interested frontline workers should visit michigan.gov/Frontliners to explore statewide and regional in-demand career opportunities and get started on their application.  

To view application data, visit the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives (LMI) Futures for Frontliners data map where you can track applicant submissions by county, House and Senate districts.  

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MNRTF Board Recommends 76 Projects Totaling Nearly $38 Million

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board has recommended 76 recreation development projects and land acquisitions totaling $37,789,600 be funded in 2021. $27,289,600 for acquisition grants and $10,500,000 for development grants. The Trust Fund board’s recommendations will go to the Michigan Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process. 

2020 MNRTF Acquisition Project Recommendations

2020 MNRTF Development Project Recommendations 

Read More about these recommend projects in the Michigan Oil & Gas News. Not a subscriber yet? Don't miss out! Click here for more great content. 

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MPSC Orders Rehearing for Line 5 Application

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   December 9, 2020

The Michigan Public Service Commission today remanded a key issue in Enbridge Energy Ltd.’s application to relocate the Line 5 pipeline to a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac, citing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s revocation of the 1953 pipeline easement as a significant development in the case that requires new legal briefings from parties in the case and an adjusted case schedule.

Enbridge in April filed an application (Case No. U-20763) for siting approval under Act 16 of 1929 to replace and relocate the segment of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac into a new tunnel it proposes to build under the lakebed. Following a Commission order establishing a contested case hearing process to evaluate the application, Enbridge in September filed a motion seeking to limit the scope of the case. The administrative law judge on Nov. 6 granted the motion in part and denied it in part, and parties in the case had filed appeals and responses.

On Nov. 13, Governor Whitmer and the state Department of Natural Resources revoked and terminated the 1953 easement under which Enbridge built and operated Line 5 in the Straits and ordered the company to cease operations of the dual pipelines no later than May 13, 2021. Attorney General Dana Nessel filed an action in Ingham County Circuit Court, also on Nov. 13, in support of the revocation. Enbridge later challenged the revocation in federal court.

The Commission’s order today finds that the revocation of the easement requires remanding Enbridge’s motion to limit the scope of the case for a rehearing, stating that clarity on the scope of the case is of critical importance to the proceeding. The ALJ’s previous ruling on the motion, along with the motion itself and responses filed to it, were premised on the existence of the 1953 easement, and the State of Michigan’s revocation of the easement represents a significant change of facts in the case.

The Commission said a rehearing gives parties in the case the opportunity to file briefs on whether, and to what extent, Governor Whitmer’s termination of the 1953 easement changes the scope of review in this case, and how any changes may affect issues in Enbridge’s motion to limit the case’s scope.

The Commission directed the ALJ and parties in the case to adjust the schedule to allow for the rehearing and for participants to file new arguments on the proper scope of the case in light of the revocation.

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MDHHS Extends Epidemic Order Another 12 Days

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has extended by 12 days the epidemic order that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities. According to the Department, the additional 12 days will allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan. 

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Timing of Line 5 closure could hardly be worse

The Detroit Free Press has featured an opinion piece from Michigan Oil and Gas Association Chairman, Brian Dorr and President, Jason Geer on Michigan's critical energy infrastructure and the importance of the safe, continued operation of Line 5 while the tunnel is constructed.  

Timing of Line 5 closure could hardly be worse| Opinion

Brian Dorr and Jason Geer
Published 6:00am EST, Dec. 4, 2020

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to unilaterally close the Michigan pipeline – Line 5 – that provides energy for Michigan residents comes as no surprise given the administration’s ongoing political rhetoric on the issue. What is shocking is why the governor would choose now to deliberately create an unnecessary energy crisis in the height of the growing pandemic and economic crisis. Given that the energy supply line continues to operate safely, as verified by recent federal agency reviews which were credited by a Michigan judge, and there is already a plan in motion to replace it with a much safer alternative, it is hard to conclude that the governor’s actions to immediately shut down the pipeline are necessary.

Click Here to Read the Full Op Ed in the Detroit Free Press

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Governor's Office Releases Statement on Enbridge Federal Suit Against the State

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
November 24, 2020  
Contact: [email protected] 

 Enbridge Lawsuit Against State Puts Great Lakes, Michigan Economy at Grave Risk  

LANSING, Mich.  – Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Communications Director Tiffany Brown issued the following statement on Enbridge Energy’s latest lawsuit against the State of Michigan, which will put the Great Lakes and Michigan’s economy at grave risk:  

“Governor Whitmer was elected to protect and defend the Great Lakes, which are vital to Michigan’s economy and support over 350,000 jobs. Today’s lawsuit filed by Enbridge brazenly defies the people of Michigan and their right to protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill. In short, Enbridge claims it can continue to pump oil through the Straits of Mackinac indefinitely, posing enormous risk to our economy and way of life – and that the people of Michigan have no say in the matter. The company that spilled nearly one million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River and made Michigan the home of the largest on-land oil spill in American history has again demonstrated it cares only about its bottom line.”  

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Enbridge Release: Enbridge files in Federal Court to block Michigan’s illegal actions against Line 5

CALGARY, AB and LANSING, Mich., Nov. 24, 2020 – Today Enbridge Inc. (TSX, NYSE: ENB) (Enbridge or the Company) filed a federal complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan seeking an injunction to stop the State of Michigan from taking any steps to prevent the operation of Line 5. The attempt to shut down Line 5 interferes with the comprehensive federal regulation of pipeline safety and burdens interstate and foreign commerce in clear violation of federal law and the US Constitution. Enbridge is also today moving the complaint filed by the State against Line 5 on November 13 in Michigan state court to the Federal Court.

A federal agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), is Enbridge’s safety regulator, not the State of Michigan. In fact, only three months ago the safety of the Dual Pipelines was reviewed by our regulator and the Pipelines were found to be fit for service.  The State’s attempt to assume the role of safety regulator through its notice purporting to “terminate and revoke” the easement is improper and unlawful.

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