Economic and Social Justice
Patriots with Heart...
Defending Democracy & Building Community
Transformative, ambitious and controversial aptly describe Michigan’s new renewable, clean energy legislation. Imagine, by 2040 — only 17 years away — Michigan’s utilities will generate 100% of their electricity from clean energy sources like solar, wind, water, natural gas, storage technologies and nuclear.
This new legislation is a very big deal for the future of our state and planet. Renewable, affordable, reliable and healthier energy will help cushion our state from the risks of rising and unpredictable fossil fuel costs.
There will be transition costs, but these will be offset by lower energy production costs and increased energy security. These changes are worth it because they increase public health and prosperity while protecting our Great Lakes region for future generations.
Many households in Manistee County recently received a mailing from one of our Republican state representatives that claims energy costs may increase by a factor of 10 because of this clean energy legislation. That is not only false, it’s also a waste of taxpayer dollars to send an obviously partisan mailing intended to mislead and create voter discontent.
Legitimate, data-backed technical and economic research indicates that energy costs will decline because Michigan utilities currently import 100% of the coal, 92% of the natural gas, and 97% of the oil and petroleum products used to generate our electricity, which drains over $18 billion a year from the state’s economy.
Michigan utility companies have also voiced concerns that continued reliance on purchasing imported electricity to supplement their inability to generate enough power to match consumption could result in unplanned power interruptions. By increasing energy efficiency and Michigan-based renewable energy, this legislation will reduce that financial drain and help keep those dollars here in Michigan, thereby reducing overall costs for electricity.
Regarding claims that this legislation will abandon “proven” fuels for new, unreliable energy sources, one only needs to look at Texas, which is a major fossil fuel producer but is leading the way with reliable, clean, renewable energy production.
Texas has four of the 12 largest industrial wind farms in the nation. Texas generates over 92 terawatt-hours of electricity per year from wind, more than the next three top states — Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas — combined.
Texas' wind generating capacity is 37,442 megawatts compared to Michigan’s 3,102 megawatts. Texas has 16,173 megawatts of solar installed compared to Michigan’s 947 megawatts. Texas has 18,552 wind turbines compared to Michigan’s 1,658 wind turbines. Renewable energy is proven energy.
But it’s understandable that questions and concerns about this legislation remain. Is it true that the Michigan clean energy legislation strips away local control? Here are the facts:
The MPSC cannot act arbitrarily and must consider the local community’s concerns. When a renewable energy project developer appeals to the MPSC to possibly override a local unit’s denial, the MPSC must consider all the following concerns of the local community:
By adding wind, solar and storage to the electrical grid, Michigan’s overall energy reliability will be enhanced. Local governments that sponsor solar and wind will realize significant revenue increases because they can convert low-taxed land or brownfield sites into more valuable energy producing land.
Michigan farmers will improve economic survivability and create a legacy for future generations by placing wind or solar on part of their land to help finance farming operations.
This legislation in many cases will allow farm and forest land to remain in a family when it otherwise would likely be lost through sale or foreclosure. And finally, but perhaps most importantly, we believe it is the right of every landowner to use his or her land as they choose.
This is not a partisan issue. Look beyond those who decry solar and wind as a political wedge to divide. Recent polling shows that 73% of Americans see climate change as a big deal. Our planet and our survival are more important than divisive politics as u
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