Last September, in the wake of the EPA’s release of the Clean Power Plan, Gov. Snyder announced that, rather than a plan written by bureaucrats from Washington, D.C., Michigan would take charge of our energy future by developing our own Michigan-first plan.
Now, with the retirement of Consumers Energy’s “Classic 7” coal power plants – and more closures of aging DTE plants to come – it is time to put that plan in motion.
Legislative hearings will begin this week in the Senate energy and technology committee, offering conservatives and Republicans a real opportunity to continue our transition to a true “all of the above” energy mix that makes energy efficiency and use of clean, renewable energy top priorities.
Creation of a Michigan-first energy plan allows us to take ownership of our energy future. Proper planning allows the Governor and the legislature an opportunity to save money for Michigan families and businesses by reducing rates – which is important.
Because, as Dr. Gary Wolfram (Hillsdale College’s director of economics) authored in “Improving Michigan’s Electricity Utility Industry, even though our electricity rates are among the highest in the Midwest, our system remains less reliable and more polluting than our neighboring states.
As Michiganders, we are united by the fact that we all use electricity – for businesses and residents alike, we can and must do better.
With a forward-looking, Michigan-first energy plan, we can capitalize on homegrown renewable energy and energy efficiency technology to help further spur Michigan’s economy, create good-paying jobs, protect our environment and give relief to ratepayers.
Investing in more renewable energy and energy efficiency is an investment in Michigan’s economy and workforce. The recently-released “Clean Jobs Midwest” report found Michigan ranked second in the region for the highest percentage of clean energy jobs, and ranks first in clean vehicle jobs. Over 87,000 Michiganders are today employed in the clean energy and energy efficiency industries.
Leveraging our innovative talent and our robust manufacturing sector, we have emerged as a clean energy economic leader in the Midwest, giving true meaning to the Governor’s phrase “Comeback State.” We are now poised to become a national leader.
Michigan’s clean energy industry only has room to grow. Now our energy future depends on sound policy enacted by the state legislature. Bills addressing the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards are being considered in the legislature – and we have a true opportunity to strengthen our economy and protect ratepayers by increasing our use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The Flint water crisis has demonstrated our lack of investment in Michigan communities’ infrastructure, and our energy infrastructure is also in dire need of modernization. It’s time for the legislature to show leadership, and work with Gov. Snyder on a Michigan-first energy plan that would make investing in our renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors a top priority.
Michigan is poised and ready to tap the state’s unrivaled innovative talent and manufacturing expertise to fuel the nation’s clean energy economy. Now is the time for Republicans in Michigan to take ownership of our energy future, and help the state move boldly and decisively forward.
Larry Ward is the executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum.
For more information on the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, visit http://www.micef.org/.
Download Dr. Gary Wolfram's (Hillsdale College’s director of economics) white paper entitled “Improving Michigan’s Electricity Utility Industry" Sept. 17, 2015.