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E-M:/ Utility-taxing budget Plan: Intriguing, but needs reliance on clean energy, efficiency

Press Statement

For Immediate Release

March 29, 2007



Dr. Martin Kushler, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy: 517-655-7037

David Gard, Michigan Environmental Council: 517-487-9539

Mike Shriberg, Environment Michigan: 734-904-7015

David Holtz, Clean Water Action: 313-300-4454

Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter: 517-484-2372

David Pettit, Public Interest Research Group in Michigan: 734-662-6597

Fr. Charles Morris, Michigan Interfaith Power and Light: 734-552-0104



Budget-fixing electric utility tax plan:

Intriguing, but needs key improvements


A proposal to help erase the state’s crippling deficit through an electricity tax and the re-regulation of Michigan’s electric utilities is worth considering. But only if it includes key energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements to help customers, and assurances that it doesn’t simply pave the way for new, expensive, polluting coal-fired or nuclear power plants -- energy policy watchdog groups said Thursday.


“As with any major policy change of this nature, there are plenty of pitfalls if this is not carefully designed,” said Dr. Martin Kushler, director of the utilities program for the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. “However, if the approach contains good regulatory protection for consumers, along with the incorporation of strong utility-funded energy efficiency programs, then a well-designed re-regulation of our electric system could be good for ratepayers and the environment.


“This has the potential to be a creative and reasonable response to the state’s financial train wreck.”


The plan, advanced by House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Twp., must protect ratepayers by ensuring aggressive requirements for energy efficiency programs and pollution-free renewable power sources.  Efficiency opportunities include power-saving high-tech equipment in industrial plants, high-efficiency lighting in commercial buildings, and cost effective home improvements including efficient appliances and better insulation for residential customers.


Such measures would generate Michigan jobs for builders, installers and manufacturers, while reducing pollution and climate-changing greenhouse gasses.


Ratepayers also would save money. Energy efficiency programs cost about 3 cents per kilowatt hour of power saved; compared to 6 to 9 cents per kWh if they were to purchase that power from a new coal plant.  Those savings to ratepayers could help offset the costs from the utility tax increase.


“If crafted carefully, Mr. Dillon’s plan could help solve our immediate budget crisis, and take forward-thinking steps to reduce our dependence on dirty, dangerous, expensive fuels like coal,” said David Gard, of the Michigan Environmental Council. “On the other hand, if this is just a way to allow the utilities to build a bunch of expensive and polluting power plants, then the proposal will be vigorously opposed. The devil, as it always is, will be in the details.”