Public Interest Research Group in Michigan
April 6, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mike Shriberg, 734-662-6597
Statement of Mike Shriberg, Ph.D., Director of PIRGIM
Today, Governor Granholm signed Executive Directive No. 2006 – 2,
which charges the Michigan Public Service Commission with preparing an
“Energy Plan for the State of Michigan” by the end of 2006 (link to
the Governor’s press release and full text at end of this statement). Of
particular importance, the Directive includes the following statement about the
electricity plan: “A renewable portfolio standard shall be created that
establishes targets for the share of this state’s energy consumption
derived from renewable energy source.”
A strong Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is the single biggest step
that Michigan can take the level the playing field and drive new
economic development based on renewable energy for electricity. The 21 other states that have adopted RPSs have become leaders in renewable energy generation,
particularly in the installation of wind turbines. It’s time for Michigan to jumpstart our economy and protect our
environment by using home-grown, renewable energy to meet our electricity
PIRGIM commends the Governor in calling for adoption of an RPS. We expect the PSC to develop a strong RPS
that includes only clean, renewable sources of energy (including wind, solar,
clean biomass and landfill gas) and that establishes a minimum, binding target
of 10% clean, renewable energy generation by 2015, as Wisconsin has just done.
Currently, Michigan remains highly dependent on the
highly-subsidized, highly-polluting, unstable, out-of-state fossil fuel and
nuclear industry to meet our electricity needs.
Michigan’s electricity portfolio includes 56.7% coal,
26.4% nuclear, 13.4% natural gas, and only 2% from renewable sources
currently. Michigan imports 100% of our coal, 100% of our
uranium and 75% of our natural gas. This
is a significant drain on Michigan’s economy. Each year, Michiganders spend more than $20
billion (over 5% of the state’s GSP) to import energy resources. This means that Michigan’s financial resources are flowing
out of the state while polluting, non-renewable fuels flow in.
Using more wind, solar and other renewable energy sources will directly
and positively impact electricity and natural gas prices. By displacing electric power production from
natural gas power plants, renewables reduce gas demand and make gas more
readily available at lower prices for other uses. In addition, the cost of renewable energy is
the same during peak and off-peak energy usage periods because renewable energy
has no fuel costs. Therefore, renewable
energy can significantly reduce energy costs during peak generation times such
as the hot summer months and cold winter months.
Committing to renewable energy is the right step for Michigan’s environment and public
health. Each year, power plant pollution
causes over 24,000 asthma attacks in Michigan alone.
The asthma epidemic, the rain of mercury in the Great Lakes, and the myriad of other problems
derived from our current electricity usage are alleviated through renewable
energy usage. Yet, the energy industry is calling for the building more
dirty coal-fired power plants while resisting commitment to renewable energy
and energy efficiency, the smart path for Michigan’s future.
Perhaps most importantly, committing to renewable energy means more
jobs for Michiganders. According to the
Renewable Energy Policy Project, Michigan has the potential for over 10,000 new
jobs from wind turbine production (which ranks 6th nationally). We have tremendous wind energy generation
potential as well, enough to power nearly 2 million households. Importantly, much of this potential is in our
struggling agricultural areas, such as the Thumb area, where farmers are
already being paid as much as $2,000 per year to install wind turbines. Renewable energy generation should be
home-grown so Michiganders can be sure their energy dollars work for Michigan.
It’s clearly time for a new energy path for Michigan.
In fact, we’re at a crossroads and Michigan has a choice. We can continue to follow our current energy
path where ever-increasing demand leads to ever-increasing reliance on fossil
fuels and mounting economic, environmental and health consequences. This leads to a future in which Michigan’s homes and businesses spend more
than is needed on energy, Michigan’s energy dollars continue to pour
into other states and countries, and tremendous economic growth opportunities
related to clean energy remain untapped. Or, Michigan can move toward a new, smarter energy
future. This future conserves energy,
uses it efficiently and relies on indigenous renewable resources, thus
investing in our state’s economy, saving money, protecting the Great Lakes, and decreasing demand for more energy. We hope and expect that the PSC’s energy plan will move Michigan in this direction.
Michigan cannot afford to wait any longer to make
a smart investment and move down this path.
A strong RPS is, by any measure, a good step toward a smart investment
in Michigan’s future.
We commend the Governor for her call to action, and look forward to
working with the PSC to develop a comprehensive energy plan that relies upon
renewable energy and energy efficiency to meet Michigan’s electricity needs.
Link to Governor’s announcement and full text of her Executive
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.