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E-M:/ Press Release: Today's 21st Century Energy Plan a fledgling first step, improvements needed

From: "Hugh McDiarmid" <Hughmec@voyager.net>

Subject: E-M:/ Press Release: Today's 21st Century Energy Plan a fledgling first step, improvements needed
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2007 11:36:00 -0500
For Immediate Release
January 31, 2007
Kim Pargoff, Environment Michigan: 517-485-1003; 310-429-9160 (cell)
David Gard
, Michigan Environmental Council: 517-487-9539; 517-896-2960 (cell)
Dr. Martin Kushler, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy: 517-655-7037
David Pettit, PIRGIM: 734-662-6597; 404-432-1610 (cell)
21st Century Energy Recommendations: A Fledgling Step on the Path to Michigan?s Clean Energy Future
Governor, Legislature Must Improve Plan to Lead Michigan Beyond Coal-Dominated Past into a Job Intensive, Independent Energy Future
Proposed funding for energy efficiency and renewable electricity generation standards in Michigan released today are a step forward, but do not achieve Gov. Jennifer Granholm?s stated vision of producing the bold 21st Century energy plan the state needs.
The Public Service Commission?s proposal, which includes a roadmap to a new coal-fired power plant prepaid by ratepayers and improvements in efficiencies and renewable electricity, does not do enough to stabilize electricity costs, protect the environment and public health, or move the state toward energy independence. Bolder steps are needed to achieve the Governor?s vision of making Michigan an epicenter for alternative energy development and stave off the need for more dirty power production.
But it?s not too late.
In order to move Michigan from energy laggard to leader, Granholm and the state legislature will need to increase the energy efficiency and renewable energy goals ? prioritizing them ahead of tired, dirty, business-as-usual coal technology.
?Energy efficiency doesn?t sound sexy, but it?s the cheapest, fastest and cleanest energy resource available to Michigan. It must be the centerpiece of any visionary energy plan,? said Dr. Martin Kushler, Utilities Program Director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. ?Each kilowatt-hour saved by ratepayers through programs for high-efficiency appliances, lighting and other energy efficiency improvements costs less than half what utility ratepayers would pay if that kilowatt-hour was bought from a new power plant.?
Renewable sources of electricity also need more support from the plan. ?Today?s plan calls for 10 percent of Michigan?s electricity from renewables by 2015. That?s certainly a good start, but a stretch goal of 13 percent by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020 would be even better. If Michigan is to become a 21st Century leader in new, cutting-edge, money-saving energy technologies, we need to make the strongest commitment possible.? said David Gard, energy program director with the Michigan Environmental Council.
Promoting energy efficiencies and adding more renewable electricity sources like wind turbines and solar power will help reduce Michigan?s enormous burden of $20 billion in imported energy costs every year. Instead of spending that money on out-of-state products like coal, these Michigan-based clean energy resources will ensure more job creation and economic development in Michigan.
?We?re sending the equivalent of $2,000 for every man, woman and child in the state somewhere else to provide our energy. With energy efficiency and renewables we could be keeping more of it here, providing new jobs for Michigan contractors, installers, suppliers and laborers,? said Kim Pargoff, advocate with Environment Michigan.
Clean renewable power, along with more aggressive utility-funded energy efficiency programs, would eliminate the need for a new pollution-spewing coal plant in the near future. That would be a blessing for thousands of asthmatics, the elderly, and others susceptible to respiratory ailments and cancers caused by power plant pollution. Energy efficiency and renewables would also boost efforts to reduce poisons like mercury, a neurotoxin that is responsible for fish consumption advisories on every lake in Michigan.
Efficiencies and green power, which are virtually free of greenhouse gas emissions, are essential for cutting the enormous volumes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses released by traditional power plants.
Energy efficiency programs and renewable power also would diversify the state?s coal-dependent energy system, providing more stable electricity rates and helping guard against catastrophic failures like the 2003 blackout.
?Such a heavy reliance on coal is a relic of the past century, and an increasingly dangerous and fragile method of putting all our energy eggs in one basket,? said David Pettit, consumer advocate with the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan.
A coalition of environmental, conservation, religious and businesses has coalesced behind two key goals: (1) an aggressive statewide utility funded energy efficiency program, with at least an average of $146 million per year in funding over the next 10 years (the amount modeled by the 21st Century Energy Plan study group); and (2) a Renewable Portfolio Standard requiring a minimum 13 percent renewable electricity by 2015 and a longer-term goal of 20 percent by 2020.
Organizations calling for 13 percent renewable energy by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020 include: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Clean Water Action, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Friends of the Detroit River, Izaak Walton League of America Dwight Lydell Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America Michigan Chapter, Lone Tree Council, Environment Michigan, Michigan Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Trust, PIRGIM, and the Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter. ###