Rewriting Michigan’s energy plan has been a major objective in Lansing this year, and the decisions made in the coming weeks will affect Michigan families and businesses for years to come. Unfortunately, the plan under consideration in the state House still falls short when it comes to promoting clean energy and keeping costs down. As a business owner who wants to power my business with more clean, efficient and renewable energy, I know Michigan can do much better.
Due to advances in technology, clean, renewable energy is now often the cheapest source of electricity available. The Michigan Public Service Commission recently estimated the combined cost of renewable energy generation and energy waste reduction at $37 per megawatt hour, while the combined cost of all power generation is $64 per megawatt hour. Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, recently summed it up well by saying, “The renewable energy we’re adding is actually helping to lower energy prices because it’s so competitive.” Renewable energy is making our electricity bills cheaper, plain and simple.
Renewable energy avoids the fluctuating costs associated with the costs of fossil fuels. Once a wind or solar farm is up and running, consumers benefit from a level of price stability that simply is not possible for traditional power plants. Being able to reliably anticipate energy costs is a huge benefit for businesses — allowing them to make smart investments in the people and technology that drive profits and growth.
Low costs and steady prices are a huge part of why Fortune 500 companies like Nike or Procter & Gamble are powering their businesses with 100 percent renewable energy. Renewable energy allows businesses here in Michigan to compete globally when it comes to sustainability. Sustainability is what customers are demanding and Michigan business leaders need strong clean energy standards if we are going to tap that demand.
That is why I have been utterly taken aback by how elected officials in Lansing have been approaching an overhaul of Michigan’s energy plan. State lawmakers are looking to roll back our highly successful clean energy standards, and that would be a big mistake. We are now on track to meet the standards passed in 2008 — on time and under budget. Moreover, our clean energy standards have driven job creation and helped to rein in rising energy costs.
If Michigan wants to continue to attract and retain new and innovative businesses, our elected officials should be looking to increase our clean energy standards. Earlier this year, Gov. Snyder laid out his administration’s findings that we could meet 40 percent of our energy needs by reducing energy waste and ramping up renewable energy over the next 10 years. So an unambitious “goal” for clean energy just won’t cut it.
The Michigan Legislature has a real opportunity to get our energy plan right and build on the success we have seen over the last seven years. Michigan must strive for clean energy standards that set us apart as a state that is taking the lead on clean energy. I encourage you to join me in urging our state legislators to put Michigan back on track by crafting new, strong clean energy standards.
By George Todd