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New state report: Renewable energy among cheapest electricity sources and costs falling

Yet state lags near bottom with weak 10% standard
Renewable energy in Michigan is less expensive than almost every other electricity source and costs have dropped as much as 50% since 2008, according to a report released today by the State of Michigan.

“Readying Michigan to Make Good Energy Decisions – Renewable Energy” also found that renewable power has been integrated seamlessly into the electricity grid and that Michigan could generate 30% or more of its electricity by 2035 using renewable resources solely from within the state.

The report also found that, despite renewable energy’s low cost, Michigan’s 10% standard “…is the lowest stated percentage for an (renewable energy standard) in the country” among 29 states with standards.

The draft report synthesizes data and studies presented earlier this year during a series of public forums called by Gov. Rick Snyder to address renewable energy and energy efficiency in Michigan. Snyder has said he would like to increase Michigan’s renewable energy standard – which peaks at 10% in 2015. The report is the first in a series expected before Snyder makes energy recommendations to the legislature late this year.

“This report unambiguously shows that investing in more renewable energy is good for Michigan ratepayers and good for our economy, public health, and environment,” said Chris Kolb, Michigan Environmental Council president. “While Michiganders have shown they’re willing to pay a little bit more to protect our children and natural resources from the toxic emissions from power plants, this report shows that we are actually paying less – not more – for clean energy.”

The costs have dropped so dramatically, the report concluded, that renewable energy surcharges on customers’ bills “…are expected to be significantly reduced or even eliminated for some electric providers beginning in 2014.”

Coal-fired power plants currently account for more than half of Michigan’s electricity generation – including 70% in Detroit Edison’s southeast Michigan territory. Many of these plants are 50 years old or older. They emit toxics including mercury, particulate matter and a host of other pollutants that scar lungs, impair cardiovascular health and poison Great Lakes fish. A Michigan Environmental Council report in 2011 found that coal pollution cost Michiganders more than $1.5 billion annually in health care costs and expenses stemming from increased asthma attacks, heart disease, respiratory ailments and premature death.

“Every megawatt of coal power we’re able to displace with clean energy reduces that risk,” said Kolb. “And adding more low-cost renewables to the mix also reduces the financial risk, serving as a buffer against rising prices for coal and other volatile fuel prices.”
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