Watt’s It to You? Perks of Michigan Energy Planning

Michigan wisely passed clean energy legislation back in December, but starting today that legislation is giving you a voice. The legislation kicked off an energy planning process where you can tell your Commissioners in person or in written comments what your vision of a better today and tomorrow should look like.

The Vision

When you envision the life you want, what do you see? Probably a picture where you and your family are happy and healthy. Where you are employed and financially comfortable. Maybe you see yourself hiking Empire’s Sleeping Bear Dunes or grilling at Detroit’s Palmer Park with the sun shining, the sky clear, and the crisp, fresh air easy to breathe. Or maybe you love the holidays and picture your family huddled around a lit Christmas tree, watching the snow fall from your warm, cozy couch.

The energy planning process currently underway can help create these moments. It keeps your air cleaner, keeps your home temperature just right, and keeps your money in your pocket.

How does this energy planning process get us to your vision? Think of it like cooking. You put something in the recipe and get something out. If you decide you want a certain result, then you will plan and be more selective about your ingredients. If you want clean, affordable, reliable energy today and tomorrow, then we must figure out what we want to put in our energy planning cookbook.

You Get Out What You Put In

What combination of inputs will put us on the path to achieve this vision? Two resources that have proven themselves as clean, affordable, reliable and job creating are renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Clean

Neither energy efficiency nor renewables use fuel that pollutes our air and water with harmful carbon, methane, or nuclear waste. Both instead lower the amount of pollutants and therefore lower the number and costs of pollution related health issues.  In fact, new analysis from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that utility-scale solar and wind energy generation in the United States prevented up to 12,700 early deaths from 2007 to 2015, and contributed to as much as $112.8 billion in air quality benefits. If that feels too removed from your day to day, on the efficiency side, the Department of Energy found that enhanced energy efficiency upgrades have been shown to reduce indoor air contaminants linked to chronic illnesses, control environmental contaminants (dust mites, mold/moisture) that can trigger respiratory symptoms, and improve symptoms of asthma and other respiratory health conditions.

Affordable

Skeptics will say that affordable energy efficiency and renewables are only possibilities in the distant future. In reality, both renewable energy and energy efficiency are affordable now and show forecasts of continued cost competitiveness. In fact, the most recent Michigan Public Service Commission report shows energy efficiency and renewables together are more affordable than any new source, including new natural gas plants with energy efficiency and renewables combining for $37.43 per MWh versus $66.23 per MWh. Additionally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration states that wind and solar will be among the most competitive sources in the future compared to  natural gas.

Job Creating

Finally, both renewable energy and energy efficiency have spurred the growth of a strong clean energy economy in the state that employs over 87,000 Michiganders. These jobs include everything from welders for wind turbines to roof insulators and administrative assistants—they are for those with PhDs or no degrees.  

The Perks of Planning

By planning, we don’t leave our vision of a happy, healthy, and affordable today and tomorrow to chance. We can both dictate the Michigan we want, while ensuring there are no-regrets protections when challenges inevitably arise. Through the spring and summer, the state held meetings to get inputs to Michigan’s planning process. They drafted a proposal and are now asking for public comments including three public hearings across the state:

Date: Wednesday, September 6
Time: 1:00pm – 5:00 pm
Location: Schoolcraft College
     18600 Haggerty Rd
     Livonia, MI 48152

Date: Wednesday, September 13
Time: 1:00pm – 5:00 pm
Location: L.V. Eberhard Center
     301 West Fulton, Room 210
    Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Date: Wednesday, September 19
Time: 12:00pm – 4:00 pm
Location: Northern Michigan University
     University Center – Huron/Erie Room
     1401 Presque Isle
     Marquette, MI 49855

If you are unable to attend, written comments must be submitted by October 6 to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909.  Electronic comments may be e-mailed to [email protected].  All comments should reference Case No. U-18418. 

At first glance, the proposal may look pretty technical, but comments are not limited to specifics like forecasted natural gas prices and efficiency cost curves. The Commissioners also want to hear your overarching support for more stakeholder involvement, getting as much energy efficiency and renewables as possible, and pursuing carbon reducing scenarios.

Now is your chance to be heard. Mark your calendars and join us in telling the Commission what the Michigan you want looks like.  

This blog is part two of a series that will help you keep an eye on the recently passed energy bills and energy planning process. Just like a “watt” is a unit (like an inch or gallon) for measuring electricity, this blog will measure how Michigan’s energy legislation will impact your life. 

About the Authors

Ariana Gonzalez

Energy Policy Analyst, Midwest program

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