March 27, 2008
Dr. Martin Kushler, Americans for an Energy Efficient Economy: 517-256-5380
Jan O’Connell, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter: 616-956-6646
Danielle Korpalski, Environment
David Holtz, Clean Water Action: 313-300-4454
Dr. Mike Shriberg, Ecology Center: 734-761-3186 x108
Senate Passes Renewable Energy Initiative For State Government; A Small First Step
But the measure affects less than 1 percent of state’s electricity generation
Legislation requiring state government to purchase renewably generated electricity is a useful first step toward a statewide clean energy policy. But the measure, passed by the Michigan State Senate today, is primarily symbolic because it affects significantly less than 1 percent of the state’s electricity generation.
“It’s fine, as far as it goes,” said Dr. Marty
Kushler of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. “But it’s
really just a partial step. We expect the Senate and the House will follow this
with additional legislation to require a statewide renewable energy standard
and utility energy efficiency programs for customers. These additional more significant
steps will be necessary to make
Independent studies show clearly that efficiency and renewables are
better economic drivers and job creators than traditional coal power plants. A
study released late last year by ACEEE concluded that appropriate legislation
Twenty-five states already have adopted standards requiring utilities to generate a percentage of their power from renewable sources. Those are the states attracting new businesses devoted to wind energy, solar power, biomass technology and the myriad support jobs that accompany them.
The alternative is a continued reliance on dirty and expensive coal technology, which spews global warming pollution into the atmosphere and contributes to mercury-laden fish, premature heart disease and debilitating childhood asthma.
Coal dependency also drains jobs and dollars out of
“Michiganders send $20 billion annually to other states and countries to import fuel like coal,” said Jan O’Connell of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “A strong statewide renewable energy standard combined with energy efficiency programming will help keep some of those billions in state.
“Would we rather send our money to a coal baron in
The state’s consideration of renewable energy standards is timely. Across the nation, dozens of proposed coal plants were scrapped in 2007 because of excessive cost to ratepayers; excessive air pollution and global warming gas emissions; determinations that the alternative energy sources and conservation were cheaper and more efficient; and voter rejection.
State House legislation that is expected to be voted on within the next several weeks would require 10 percent renewable electricity generation by 2015. Another bill would require utility energy efficiency programs to help customers save energy. Together, these bills would provide a vital economic stimulus package for the state’s dormant economy.