Clean Energy a Michigan Cornerstone

More than ever, clean energy seems to be pervading and sustaining every aspect of Michigan–making the case that clean energy can be the cornerstone for advancements in jobs, power, and health in the state.
Consumers Energy Cross Winds Energy Park
Credit: Consumers Energy

Michigan is enjoying a flurry of clean energy headlines and developments lately, the most recent being the new Clean Jobs Midwest Report which has Michigan leading the region. Michigan has led the pack before, but now more than ever clean energy seems to be pervading and sustaining every aspect of the state—making the case that clean energy can be the cornerstone for advancements in jobs, power, and health. 

Clean Energy and Jobs 

In E2’s new Clean Jobs Midwest Report, Michigan boasts 126,081 clean energy jobs—more than any other state in the region. Last year, the industry added 4,800 jobs for a 4 percent growth rate. Alternative transportation including jobs involved in the design and manufacturing of plug-in hybrid vehicles, EVs and hybrid electric vehicles saw the most growth, expanding by nearly 16 percent.

Energy Efficiency Spotlight
The dominating clean energy employer continues to be energy efficiency with 85,061 jobs, or about two-thirds of Michigan’s clean energy jobs. These include jobs related to retrofitting ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in schools, insulating homes, and manufacturing ENERGY STAR-rated appliances.

Clean Energy and Power

The two biggest utilities in the state, Consumers Energy and DTE, recently came out with respective long-term energy plans shifting away from a coal-heavy resource portfolio and increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy. While neither plan is perfect, the fundamental transformation in both is noteworthy and much-needed. The plans affirm that more and more Michigan homes, businesses, and industries will be powered by clean energy.

Energy Efficiency Spotlight
Consumers Energy’s long-term planned included never before seen levels of efficiency in the state—and in fact levels rivaling the best programs in the nation. In 2016, Public Act 342 passed which maintained the energy efficiency standard requiring utilities to reduce electricity sales annually by 1% through 2021 and provided a new financial incentive for reductions up to 1.5%. Consumers Energy’s long-term proposal blows those numbers out of the water with a ramp up to 2% energy efficiency by 2021 and 2.25% by 2030. While not as ambitious, DTE too proposed a ramp up of energy efficiency from 1.625% by 2020 and 1.75% between 2021 and 2024. Energy efficiency helps lower your monthly utility bills, lessens the strain on infrastructure that might otherwise need costly upgrades and replacement, and helps avoid the need for additional generation. 

Clean Energy and Health

With an increase in clean energy jobs and power, comes an increase in positive health impacts. Simply put, less fossil generation means less harmful emissions filling families’ lungs and plaguing communities. We know the impact air pollution has on asthma. We know carbon is driving climate change that causes severe weather events like extreme flooding and extreme heat days that threaten lives. We also know we have the ability to change course and improve the climate of our future.

Energy Efficiency Spotlight
As mentioned earlier, reducing energy usage decreases the need to generate power, which today still means burning a sizable amount of fossil fuels. Those cuts translate into huge gains in air quality and health because we know pollutants from burning fossil fuels contribute to serious health issues from asthma to cancer and respiratory and heart diseases. It’s important to note that energy efficiency also improves indoor air quality. It makes families healthier and more comfortable inside their own homes when it comes to heating and cooling in extreme heat and cold like the polar vortex and can remove health risks such as carbon monoxide from faulty appliances.

Clean Energy Commitment 

If Michigan can commit and go all in on clean energy from power to transportation and buildings, we can expect to continue to reap the many benefits. The Clean Jobs Midwest report is a good indicator of how strong our clean energy economy has become and why Michigan should continue to invest in sustaining communities, reducing energy costs, and building a healthier state through clean energy.