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E-M:/ Hotter than h***!! Weather highlights need for aggressive energy policy changes



David Gard or Hugh McDiarmid Jr.

 Michigan Environmental Council: 517-487-9539


August 1, 2006

Immediate Release


Heat Wave Underscores State Energy Needs

Efficiency, diversity could reduce electric loads, save ratepayers’ cold cash


Blistering temperatures today again forced utilities to ask residents to limit electricity use, underscoring the need for Michigan to establish aggressive efficiency requirements and create a more diverse base of electricity generation incorporating renewable wind, solar and biomass.


“With air conditioners cranked up to handle this heat, more strain is put on the power grid.  Unfortunately, Michigan is missing big opportunities to save energy during times of high demand,” said David Gard, energy program director with the Michigan Environmental Council. “As a state, we must look to a future where responsible utility efficiency programs and improved building codes promote money-saving efficiencies that reduce our energy consumption and save real dollars and cents on electricity bills.”


With Michigan’s efficiency performance lagging behind many other states, meeting our energy needs is a more costly proposition than it should be.


“Adding power plants before cutting wasteful energy use is like failing to shut drafty windows before you crank the thermostat up or down,” said Gard. “No sane homeowner would allow cool air-conditioned air to escape through open windows into summertime heat, but that’s essentially what we’re doing as a state.”


Since April, a stakeholder process called the 21st Century Energy Plan has been working with the Michigan Public Service Commission staff to develop a comprehensive plan for meeting the state's electric power needs.  It is crucial that the final report, due to the governor by year’s end, recommends forward-thinking polices that will be embraced by legislators and regulators.


Such policies should encourage the development of renewable power - wind, solar, and biomass - as well as an aggressive efficiency package.


“Renewable power alone will not meet all of our electricity demand, but it’s a 21st Century piece of the puzzle that we’re currently not utilizing,” said Gard. “And it’s a part of the solution that doesn’t create the coal-generated pollution that scars lungs and accelerates global warming.”