Should Michigan Commit to More Renewable Energy? All Signs Point to Yes.

December 12, 2013 | 2:30 pm
Sam Gomberg
Senior Analyst

The word is in from a year-long process to discuss Michigan’s energy future that included policy makers, a broad coalition of stakeholders, and thousands of state residents: Michigan should continue its commitment to renewable energy. Now it’s up to Governor Snyder to take action and put forth a legislative agenda that includes extending and strengthening Michigan renewable energy standard.

Wind farm near Ubly, MI

Developing Michigan’s wind resources creates jobs, invests in local communities, and provides reliable, clean energy. Photo: RTD Photography

As the end of the year approaches, Michigan waits for Governor Snyder’s address that will lay out where he believes Michigan’s energy future lies. Throughout 2013, Governor Snyder and his staff put together a robust, open, and transparent process to collect and analyze information about a number of energy-related topics, including how Michigan is faring when it comes to renewable energy. He should be commended for this. It’s not often you see a political process play out in such a transparent and data-driven fashion. But it’s all for naught if it doesn’t lead to sound policy based on the information collected.

Now is not the time for kicking the can down the road

Michigan’s current renewable energy standard — which requires Michigan utilities to achieve 10 percent renewable energy use by 2015 — is set to expire in just two short years. And without new policies in place to provide long-term certainty for developers, deployment of Michigan’s renewable energy resources will slow down significantly while other states, including several in the Midwest, continue to move ahead of Michigan. Delay in reaffirming Michigan’s commitment to renewable energy also means more money wasted on importing coal to fuel Michigan’s coal plants and more power plant emissions fouling Michigan’s environment and contributing to climate change.

Fortunately, the governor has all the tools he needs to take a strong leadership position and push an agenda that includes extending and strengthening Michigan renewable energy standard. In February, the Public Service Commission released its annual report on the implementation of Michigan’s current renewable energy standard. Its conclusions?

  • Michigan’s utilities are well on their way to meeting the current standard
  • Meeting the standard has proven easier and cheaper than originally thought
  • Developing Michigan’s renewable energy is driving significant investment in the state’s communities
  • Renewable energy resources continue to improve in performance and come down in price

Then, in October of this year, the governor’s staff, tasked with collecting information on what Michigan’s energy future should look like, released its report that verified everything the Michigan Public Service Commission has been saying, but went even further to conclude that Michigan could cost effectively achieve at least 30 percent renewable energy with in-state resources while maintaining reliability. Both of these reports are further supported by the dozens of businesses and organizations, as well as thousands of Michiganders, that voiced their support for continuing Michigan’s commitment to renewable energy.

Governor Snyder

Governor Snyder has all the tools he needs to take a strong leadership position on clean energy for Michigan. Photo: Michigan Municipal League

All signs point to yes for Michigan to commit to more renewable energy

So what else does the governor need to take a strong leadership position on clean energy for Michigan? As he considers his upcoming address and the position he will take on what policies are needed to move the state towards a clean, sustainable and reliable energy future, Michiganders are clearly saying: “We have your back governor!” All signs point towards go on extending Michigan’s renewable energy standard to achieve 30 percent or more renewable energy over the next 15 to 20 years. But Governor Snyder’s leadership is necessary to make it happen.

Now is the time to take Michigan into the 21st century by supporting a strong renewable energy standard that taps into Michigan’s true renewable energy potential.