In Brief

Report: More Utility Customers Produced Electricity in 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state says more utility customers in Michigan produced their own electricity in 2016 than the previous year.

Michigan’s Public Service Commission says 2,582 residential, commercial and industrial customers participated in the state’s net metering program, an increase of 427 from 2015.

Solar remains the leading form of energy generation. Wind is the second most popular.

The net metering program was established in 2008 and is available to customers of rate-regulated utilities, cooperatives, and alternative electric suppliers.

Net metering offsets part or all of a customer’s energy needs and reduces their electric bills. When customers produce more electricity than they need, power is provided back to the serving utility, permitting the customer to receive a credit.

The figures were included in the recently released Net Metering and Solar Program Report.

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Work to Start on Rapid Transit Bus System in Marion County

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Construction on a rapid transit bus system in Marion County is expected to start next year and begin operations in 2019.

The (Franklin) Daily Journal reports from an IndyGo news release that the Red Line will run from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis. IndyGo is Indianapolis’ public transit service.

The project’s first phase is expected to cost nearly $46 million. Environmental studies for the section that will run from the university to the county line were completed earlier this month.

The newspaper reports that plans have shown the route heading south into Johnson County’s Greenwood, and also north into Hamilton County.

IndyGo spokesman Bryan Luellen says planning is continuing for the route’s southern section. He adds that IndyGo will work closely with officials in Johnson County.

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Frigid Temperatures Blamed for Damage to Public Buildings

TAYLOR, Mich. (AP) — Frigid temperatures are blamed for causing pipes to rupture in three public buildings in a Detroit suburb.

Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars says problems started last week, with pipes breaking at City Hall, the Lakes of Taylor Golf Club and a park activity building. Water poured into the buildings for several hours.

Sollars says no one was in the buildings when the pipes burst. Damage is estimated at more than $100,000. City Hall has since reopened, but Sollars says events likely will be canceled for a few months at the golf club.

Cleanup work comes as brutal winter weather has brought bitterly cold temperatures to parts of the U.S., including Michigan. Snow is forecast for parts of Michigan along with icy temperatures, especially in northern areas of the state.

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Cold Weather Likely Caused Indiana Water Tower to Overflow

SCHERERVILLE, Ind. (AP) — An official says frigid weather likely caused a water tower in northwestern Indiana to overflow.

Schererville’s Public Works Director Jeff Huet tells The (Northwest Indiana) Times a caller reported a possible leak at the tower Jan. 2, but crews that checked it out found it overflowing. The overflow caused ice to form on the outside of the tower as water fell to the ground.

Huet says he suspects a valve in the bottom of the tower that monitors water levels wasn’t working properly due to ice.

In Munster, the fire department says the cold weather caused a pipe to burst and the ceiling to collapse the evening of Jan. 2 at Hartsfield Village senior living facility. No one was injured, but crews moved about 10 residents to other sections of the facility.

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Indiana University Nears Finishing of Some Building Projects

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana University officials say several major construction projects are nearing completion on the Bloomington campus.

Those include a new $40 million building for the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering. Officials say Luddy Hall with 77 classrooms, labs and learning spaces should open in January. The (Bloomington) Herald-Times reports the school’s undergraduate enrollment has tripled over the past six years.

Crews have started moving marching band equipment into the new Ray E. Cramer Marching Hundred Hall. That $10 million building includes a large indoor marching band rehearsal area.

The biggest ongoing project is construction of the $53 million addition to Memorial Stadium that will fully enclose the football stadium. It will include rehabilitation facilities, an athlete dining hall and an outdoor event terrace for fans.

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Fermi 2 Nuclear Plant Finds Minor Problem With Fuel Assembly

FRENCHTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — An official says a minor defect in a fuel assembly has been found in the reactor at Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in southeastern Michigan.

DTE Energy Co. spokesman John Austerberry tells the Monroe News that the plant operated at reduced power from Dec. 29 to the evening of Jan. 1 so the potential defect could be located. He says the plant “remains in a safe, stable condition.”

Austerberry says the issue was found during routine monitoring. He says the affected fuel assembly will be removed during the plant’s next refueling outage.

The Detroit-based utility’s plant is located along Lake Erie in Monroe County’s Frenchtown Township, near Michigan’s border with Ohio.

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Duke Energy: Lafayette Hum Is Extra Power in Power Lines

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Duke Energy says a mysterious hum some Lafayette residents were hearing was nothing more than extra power surging through the northwest Indiana city’s utility lines to meet customers’ power demands during the recent Arctic blast.

Duke spokesman Lew Middleton says the noise occurs when more current moves through utility lines and power substations during very cold or hot weather. He says the noise is nothing for residents to be concerned about because it’s just simple physics.

Lafayette police Sgt. Mike Brown tells the Journal & Courier officers fielded several calls over the New Year’s weekend about a humming noise callers likened to a distant snow blower or street sweeper operating.

Monday’s low fell to minus 16 degrees at the National Weather Service’s Purdue Airport station in adjacent West Lafayette.

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Energy Department to Permanently Close Damaged Hanford Tank

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — The Energy Department says it will permanently close a damaged radioactive waste storage tank on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The department says that Tank AY-102 has widespread damage and should not be repaired.

The Tri-City Herald reports that this is the oldest of the double-walled underground tanks at Hanford.

The Energy Department in 2012 revealed that waste from the inner shell of the tank was slowly leaking into the space between its inner and outer shells. No waste is known to have breached the outer shell to reach the environment.

The decision means that Hanford will have 27 newer double-walled tanks to hold waste emptied from 149 leak-prone single-walled tanks.

The waste is left from World War II and Cold War production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

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