March 9, 2015

Michigan Democrats Push for 20 Percent Renewable Energy by 2022

Michigan Democrats in the House and Senate on Tuesday released their energy principles, which include increasing the state's renewable energy to 20 percent by 2022.

The concept is to have renewable energy serve as an economic boost while also keeping utility costs affordable.

"Through 2014, renewable energy projects have brought nearly $3 billion in investment to Michigan, and utilities are on track to meet the 10 percent goal required in current law," said Rep. Bill LaVoy, D-Monroe, who serves as Democratic Vice Chair of the House Energy Policy Committee.

The state last established a renewable portfolio standard, or RPS, in a 2008 law, setting it at 10 percent by 2015. Utilities are on track to meet that number, according to a report from the Michigan Public Service Commission, and renewable sources are cost-competitive with non-renewable energy sources.

To amend that standard would require legislation, which would need to be approved by the Republican-majority House and Senate and be signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder to become law.

The Democratic plan to increase renewable energy to 20 percent would allow "off-ramps" for new technologies and more affordable alternatives. It would also ban utility companies from charging customers surcharges to meet the new targets.

"Michigan's RPS is one of the lowest in the nation, and just last month, Illinois lawmakers introduced legislation to raise their renewable standards," said Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, Democratic vice chairman of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee.

"If Michigan wants to stay competitive with other states and lure investment, we need to give businesses in this thriving sector a reason to locate here," he added.

The Democratic plan would also raise energy efficiency standards to 2 percent and develop a more robust process to advocate on behalf of residential utility customers.

The plan garnered support from Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, health professionals and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

"We applaud the leadership of state legislators putting forth a clean energy plan that will build on our success so far. Michigan's commitments to clean energy have driven $2.9 billion in economic growth, and better protected our air and water from pollution," said MLCV Executive Director Lisa Wozniak. "We must keep up the good work and invest even further in renewables and reducing energy waste. Our current goals expire this year, and we cannot wait any longer to act on a clean energy plan that moves Michigan forward."

Snyder has said he'd like to wean Michigan off coal, but is expected to release a detailed energy plan soon.

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