Municipal anti-energy protest ahead of Ann Arbor City Council vote at City Hall

More than 20 members of the Ann Arbor for Public Power (A2P2) demonstrated outside Larcom City Hall Tuesday night ahead of an Ann Arbor City Council vote to implement a feasibility study on creating a a municipal energy utility. The non-profit organization advocates for the city to municipalize its energy services, which means ensuring that energy resources are owned and operated by and for the city instead of a private company.

The organization supports the replacement of DTE Energy – the only energy service provider in Ann Arbor – with alternative methods of public power. The city of Ann Arbor has worked with private utilities like DTE to provide electricity while pursuing its carbon neutral plan, which was criticized by protesters Tuesday night. Seventy percent of DTE’s electricity comes from non-renewable sources, particularly coal.

AA Public Power was formed last summer after frustrations over multiple DTE power outages in Ann Arbor and across the state of Michigan due to thunderstorms.

Zackariah Farah, head of the LSA, one of the main organizers of the protest, explained that switching to public power would allow the city to make improvements to energy resources that the DTE does not support. In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Farah said improvements would include resilient infrastructure, the use of solar and wind power in Ann Arbor, and the purchase of energy from renewable sources indoors and outdoors. out of state Michigan.

“We’re hoping that under local control we can do a lot of things that DTE doesn’t allow us to do, like making sure our infrastructure is resilient so it doesn’t fail every time the wind blows,” said Farah, “This will allow us to create solar and wind farms right here in Ann Arbor and selectively purchase electricity from renewable sources across the state and even out of state. this group (A2P2) was formed.

Farah said the organization spent a year asking the city’s Energy Commission to fund and authorize a feasibility study that would provide data on the transition from non-renewable energy to energy. renewable. When the commission met on December 14, it unanimously recommended that city council approve a feasibility study.

“The University buys a lot of dirty power from DTE because there is no other choice,” Farah said. “DTE is a monopoly.”

Many UM student and faculty organizations also joined the protest, including the Graduate Employee Organization and members of the Central Student Government, who also presented a resolution for public power on Tuesday night.

LSA freshman Ellie Keessen attended the rally and said she believes the establishment of community-owned utilities will benefit the community both environmentally and economically. While building a community power grid from scratch can take a long time, Keessen told The Daily she thinks it would be worth the effort.

“I think the (Ann Arbor) municipal decision of power is the most important way to achieve the A2ZERO plan (Ann Arbor’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030),” Keessen said. “Community-owned power grids could provide unionized jobs, bring money to the community, and control where we get electricity from.”

Ann Arbor resident Lauren Sargent, one of the rally organizers, shared her thoughts in an interview with The Daily. Community-owned utilities, as opposed to private investment, are the only way to achieve carbon neutrality, Sargent said.

“DTE does not have a climate target,” Sargent said. “They’re committed to shareholder value, but we’re committed to renewable energy… It’s already worked in 41 cities and towns in Michigan.”

Ann Arbor for Public Power has collected more than 1,300 petition signatures from residents who want a feasibility study. The Ann Arbor City Council unanimously passed the resolution advocating the feasibility study on Tuesday.

Daily staff reporters Nirali Patel and Chen Lyu can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]

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