Michigan’s Energy Future
Affordability, reliability, and protection of the environment. Governor Snyder put forward these three objectives to guide the state’s energy future back in 2012. Since then, we've seen the legislature try to answer what policies and resources would get us there. Clean energy resources like energy efficiency and renewable energy seemed like the obvious choice to many, but for others the answer was still up for debate. This week’s release of state modeling on compliance options for the Clean Power Plan makes the state's position clear: Michigan's best bet is energy efficiency. The state’s press release focused on results finding energy efficiency as a vital part for saving the state money for years to come compared to business as usual.
This should come as no surprise. The modeling adds to the long list of reports over the years touting the billions of dollars of savings from Michigan's successful energy efficiency programs. These programs include improvements such as air sealing, roof insulation, boiler replacement, boiler controls, radiator replacement and CFL/LED installations. In addition to minimizing the burden of high energy costs, the programs also provide a more comfortable living space, reduce pollution, and maintain affordable housing.
It's no surprise then that Governor Snyder has come out supporting a 1.5 percent standard through 2025. Sally Talberg, chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission, went further to say that the state may also need to lift a 2 percent program funding limitation and find other ways to make sure utilities don't face barriers in pursuing energy efficiency efforts. "It doesn't really make sense to take your best option and restrict spending on it," Talberg said. "Carbon rule or no carbon rule, this is the most important thing Michigan can do to control costs now and in the future."
The Nation’s Energy Future
The modeling released speaks specifically to Michigan's ability to comply with the Clean Power Plan, but this week the Clean Power Plan also made national news with oral arguments beginning on whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to put the rule in place. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit heard nearly seven hours of oral argument in the case challenging EPA’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from the nation’s 1,000 coal- and gas-fired power plants. The marathon hearing underscored what we've known to be true all along: The Clean Power Plan is built on a strong legal foundation. It is consistent with the law, earlier court precedents, and other EPA programs. The arguments being offered by polluters and their political allies to date have lacked merit, and nothing we heard in the court room today was any different. The strong presentation from the government, environmental intervenors, supportive power companies, and supportive states is a reflection of the national need and desire to embrace clean energy. Sounds like a no brainer, unless you're rogue Attorney General Schuette.
Your Energy Future
The nation is making the case for clean energy, Michigan is making the case for clean energy, and both are making the case for you. If you're worried about jobs, rest assured the clean energy economy is booming. Michigan’s clean energy sector accounts for over 87,000 jobs with plenty of potential to grow. If you're worried about your children's health, be comforted by the Harvard analysis showing that the health benefits of reducing particle pollution and smog from power plants could save 1,900 lives and prevent 450 hospitalizations in Michigan from 2020 to 2030. The movement toward clean energy is inevitable and essential for ensuring energy in Michigan is affordable, reliable, and protects of the environment. But more than that it's about securing happier, healthier homes and communities for years to come.