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House energy pact means lower cost, cleaner energy for Michigan's future

Apr 18, 2008
An energy package passed by the Michigan House of Representatives will mean lower cost, cleaner electricity for Michigan’s future according to analysis by the Michigan Environmental Council.

The Council, a coalition of 70 environmental, public health and faith-based groups, applauded Thursday’s passage of the package which includes:
  • A statewide energy efficiency program that will save businesses and ratepayers millions of dollars in avoided energy costs. A kilowatt of energy costs 3 or 4 cents to conserve, compared to 10 cents or more to generate from a new power plant.
  • A renewable energy standard requiring at least 10 percent of Michigan’s electric power to come from renewable resources by 2015. This puts Michigan in competition with 25 other states that have such policies – states that have an advantage in attracting new energy entrepreneurs and jobs.
  • An integrated resource planning process that ensures the best, lowest-cost energy options are the winners in the race to meet electricity demand. When expensive polluting new coal plants are forced to compete with energy efficiency and other options, they will likely lose, to the benefit of Michigan ratepayers.
“This package is a good first step toward making Michigan a leader in energy savings and clean, homegrown power,” said David Gard, Energy Program Director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “Michigan ratepayers currently send $20 billion annually out of state to buy fuel from other nations and states. This legislation will begin keeping some of that money here, paying Michigan energy efficiency contractors, engineers and installers and financing the construction and operation of windmills, solar power operations and alternative fuel entrepreneurs.”

In addition to ratepayer protection and job creation, the package will help curb Michigan’s emission of global warming pollution, dangerous mercury and asthma-inducing smog from dirty coal power plants.

“Across the nation, states are turning away from coal for economic and environmental reasons,” said Gard. “It’s exciting to see Michigan turning toward nonpolluting power that is cost competitive.

Critics who assailed the package on the grounds that it will increase electricity rates are being disingenuous, said Hugh McDiarmid Jr., communications director with the Council.

“The valid comparison is what future renewable power will cost compared to future, new coal plants; not what renewable power costs compared to today’s rates,” he said. “Using an apples-to-apple comparison, the costs are competitive. And in the long-term, renewable wind power is cheaper. But if you include the energy efficiency part of the package it works out to a net reduction in ratepayer costs. Opponents of the package never bring up the energy efficiency portion of the plan because it so swiftly and thoroughly cuts the legs out from under their arguments.”

Ratepayer and environmental advocates now look to the Michigan State Senate to enhance the House plan and pass legislation that protects ratepayers and Michigan’s natural resources at the same time.

“It’s gratifying to work on an issue that is so overwhelmingly good for both the economy and the environment,” said Gard. “We’re glad that our state legislators are taking the initiative to protect both.”
Hugh McDiarmid Jr., Michigan Environmental Council: 517-487-9539 / 248-660-4300
RELATED TOPICS: energy efficiency, green economy
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