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E-M:/ New PIRGIM Report: "Responding to Michigan's Energy Crisis"



For Immediate Release:                                                       For More Information:

January 4, 2006                                                                     Mike Shriberg, Director

                                                                                                (734) 662-6597

PIRGIM Calls for Response to Michigan’s Energy Crunch
Implementing Report Recommendations Will Reduce Energy Burden and Create Jobs

LANSINGWith a 50% increase in natural gas heating costs this winter and gasoline spiking at more than $3.00 per gallon last summer, PIRGIM is calling on state lawmakers and the Governor to take actions to help address the growing energy cost burden and supply shortage Michiganders face.

“With energy costs hitting consumers hard this year as a consequence of over-reliance on oil and gas imports, it’s time for an all-hands-on-deck effort to adopt energy solutions that keep energy costs down and keep energy dollars in our state,” said
Mike Shriberg, PIRGIM’s State Director. “The good news is there are policies and programs that have worked in other states and can make a difference here.”

The call to action was backed with the release of a PIRGIM Report that proposed 5 recommendations and 12 specific action steps that Michigan’s leaders can take now to help with current high heating bills and to help curb the growing dependence on imported fossil fuels.  These actions include an increased emphasis on energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy.

This report release comes the day after Michigan’s Public Service Commission (PSC) released its electric Capacity Needs Forum report, which includes a call for energy efficiency and renewable energy development in the next five years but also building one or two more coal-fired power plants in the long-term.  Michigan has all the energy resources that it needs,” said Shriberg.  “Rather than spending billions to build new coal-fired power plants that rely on imported, polluting fossil fuels, Michigan should rely on cost-effective, in-state energy solutions, such as energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy sources.”

PIRGIM recommends that the legislature and administration work together to:

1. Provide incentives and standards for energy-efficient products and services;
2. Reinstate utility energy efficiency programs and Public Benefits Fund;
3. Ensure that new buildings are energy efficient by updating building codes;
4. Establish state government as a leader and driver of energy efficiency and renewable energy;
5. Pass a strong Renewable Energy Standard and remove unfair barriers to renewable energy;

”Implementing these recommendations would create tens of thousands of jobs and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs,” said Shriberg.  “It’s time to help consumers save money today.  It’s also time to adopt solutions that will prevent energy cost crises next year and beyond.”

Currently, Michigan imports nearly all of its energy from out-of-state, and over $18 billion (5% of Michigan’s GSP) out of over $27 billion in energy spending goes to out-of-state entities.  Michigan’s limited financial resources are flowing out of the state while polluting, non-renewable fuels flow in.  Michigan cannot afford to wait any longer for strong energy independence polices,” said Shriberg.

In Michigan, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy contributed over $1.5 million in the past 3 election cycles.  These special interests have so far delayed significant action in promoting energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy.  Congress and the Bush Administration have also failed to help promote clean energy.  

However, with the Michigan Legislature, PSC and Governor vowing to focus on energy issues because of the public outcry over energy costs, PIRGIM expects significant policy action in 2006.   The PIRGIM Report – Responding to Michigan’s Energy Crisis: 5 Steps for Michigan’s Leaders to Invest in a Smarter Energy Future – points to clean, simple, smart energy solutions.

“2006 will be a pivotal year in moving Michigan’s toward energy efficiency and independence. To address this ongoing crisis, Michigan can and should play a critical role in filling the leadership vacuum left by those in Washington, D.C.,” said Shriberg. 

“Our elected leaders now know how to address Michigan’s energy crisis; the question is whether they have the political will to act,” said Shriberg.

The full report is available at www.pirgim.org (under “Reports”) or directly from the author.

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PIRGIM is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest organization.  With over 10,000 members across the state and offices in Lansing and Ann Arbor, PIRGIM has worked since 1972 to represent the interests of Michigan’s consumers and the environment.