New Michigan Energy Report: Renewables and Energy Efficiency Are Enough to Power the State

Analysis shows clean energy technologies can lower energy costs and boost state economy

CHICAGO (August 11, 2009) – Michigan’s power needs can be delivered by a combination of wind power, biomass, and other sources of renewable energy coupled with aggressive energy efficiency programs, according to a new energy report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report comes as the Michigan Public Service Commission is set to make recommendations to the Department of Environmental Quality on the need for power and availability of cleaner alternative to coal later this month.

"Michiganders need to think about energy like an investor right now,” said Rebecca Stanfield, a senior energy advocate at NRDC. “Would you put all your money towards yesterday’s dirty technology? No. And Michigan ratepayers shouldn’t be saddled with that sort of risky investment either. The state has the enviable opportunity to rebuild its economy with cutting edge energy technologies which will create jobs and clean the air.”

A Green Energy Alternative for Michigan, written by Synapse Energy Economic, a nationally recognized consulting firm on energy and environmental issues, is a deep analysis of the state’s projected electricity demand, the liabilities associated with air and global warming pollution, as well as the opportunities offered by clean energy technologies for job creation, industrial investment, and resilience in the face of changing circumstances. The report shows that by displacing traditional fossil fuel energy, the energy efficiency program alone could save Michigan $3 billion in electricity costs over the next 20 years. Efficiency savings combined with the potential of 27,000 GWh of power from clean energy technologies can fulfill the state’s power needs.

Michigan policymakers are on the cusp of making important decisions regarding the state’s energy future. Already, the state has taken some important steps in shaping that energy future by establishing binding targets for renewable-resources, and mandating comprehensive energy planning for utilities. Michigan also has a climate action plan, and a requirement for the Department of Environmental Quality to consider the need for all prudent alternatives to the construction of any new coal-fired power plant. The report’s analysis holds the following lessons for Michigan:

  • The state’s previous energy plan, written in 2007, is today out of date, with unrealistic projections of future electrical demand, limited deployment of energy efficiency and renewables, and reliance on 20th Century coal technologies.
  • Michigan’s most-attractive energy choice by any measure is energy efficiency, which can be quickly implemented, save energy, make businesses more productive, lower energy bills, create jobs, avoid pollution, and keep money in Michigan. Programs that promote cost-effective efficiency make the single best energy investment available to Michigan citizens, business, and institutions.
  • A portfolio of 21st Century choices is less expensive, cleaner, faster, more economically robust, and creates more jobs in Michigan than a 20th Century plan based on new large fossil-fired power plants.

“A smart energy future for Michigan is one that takes advantage of a diverse and distributed array of clean energy resources,” said David Schlissel of Synapse, one of the report’s authors. “Right now, there is breathing room to really plan a smart new energy infrastructure in the state due to the current lull in electricity consumption. It is an important opportunity to develop a system that will reduce energy demand and provide new, clean energy even as the economy recovers. I hope Michigan will take advantage.”

This report discusses policies and measures that are cost-effective and have measurable benefits. The clean energy portfolio outlined in the report promotes economic recovery within the state in three ways:

  • Creating jobs in the manufacture and/or installation of wind turbines and solar cells, and implementation of efficiency improvement to homes, businesses and other buildings;
  • Retaining energy dollars in-state that would otherwise be used to purchase energy resources and services out-of-state; and
  • Leading to lower future energy costs, thereby promoting the general economic health of Michigan businesses and citizens.

A Green Energy Alternative for Michigan was commissioned by NRDC and is available online at

A recording of this morning’s press briefing is available today at