Friday, December 27, 2013

Renewable energy proving affordable

Consensus appears conceivable as Michigan moves toward updating its energy policy with 2025 in view.

Groups are generally applauding the principles Gov. Rick Snyder enunciated recently.

Snyder spoke in broad terms. He favors energy efficiency, expanding renewables, replacing coal, affordability and fewer and shorter power outages.

Mom’s apple pie would be nice too.

The legislature is expected to begin drafting policy as the clock runs out on Michigan’s current renewable energy standard in 2015.

Meanwhile,  the wisdom of bipartisan policies agreed to by the Michigan legislature and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2008 continues to manifest itself.

 Michigan customers of DTE Energy will be getting a reduction on their utility bills following Michigan Public Service Commission  approval the utility’s plan to slash its renewable energy surcharge by 85 percent, bringing the fee down from $3 to 43 cents per month.

Earlier this year, Consumers Energy reported to the MPSC that it would eliminate its renewable energy surcharge completely.

This proves that the big utilities were able to expand reliance on renewables without unduly burdening ratepayers. To be sure there has been grumbling about rates from both residential and commercial users but no pronounced outcry. Cleaning up the environment carries a cost, but not that huge a cost, as it turns out.

DTE was able to reduce the surcharges due to the declining price of wind energy, which is now cheaper than all other forms of energy.

The contours of what promises to be a spirited debate over energy policy are shaping up following statements by interested groups.

“Gov. Snyder discussed and is rightly concerned that our high utility electricity rates harm residential homeowners, discourages growth, business expansion and job creation and also make Michigan uncompetitive in attracting new business and industry,” said Wayne Kuipers,  executive director of Energy Choice Now.

“While no specific recommendations to solving this problem were laid out in his comments today, the Legislature has already taken steps to bring relief to consumers with the introduction of House Bill 5184,” Kuipers said. That measure would lift Michigan’s cap on alternative energy suppliers, which incumbent utilities were granted in 2008 so they could cope with the cost of moving to renewables.

“Michigan’s current cap prevents most Michigan customers from using competition to lower their electric bills electric rates, which are by far the highest in the Midwest and well above the national average,” Kuipers said.

For more information about the Michigan Electric Customer Freedom Act,  visit:

 Leaders of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum  praised  Snyder for leading the state’s transition toward greater use of clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency, which it said will improve national security, protect public health and create jobs and economic opportunity.

“By leading on energy policy, Gov. Snyder is paving the way on issues that are important to conservatives, albeit for different reasons than those of environmental advocate,” said Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum. “Michigan manufacturers, researchers, engineers and scientists are creating the next generation of state of the art wind turbines, solar panels as thin as paper, and new generations of vehicles that use less and additional forms of energy. Because of his background, Gov. Snyder understands technology, and therefore that any state energy policy must have the flexibility to anticipate opportunities to leverage future advancements.”

“We applaud and support Gov. Snyder for his leadership on this important issue,” said Keith den Hollander, chairman of the Christian Coalition of Michigan. “It’s no secret that Washington is not going to tackle energy policy. All Americans, including people of faith, need our Governors to pave the way. It’s archaic in this millennium to think that Michigan still gets nearly 60% of our electricity from coal – which we pay to have shipped in. Expanding Michigan’s use of clean energy will build upon our manufacturing strength, talent and know-how, encourage innovation and put Michigan workers back on the job.”

“We are too dependent on foreign energy — sending a billion dollars overseas every day, often to countries that are hostile to America and our way of life,” said Hank Fuhs, long-time secretary of the Michigan Republican State Committee and 31-year veteran of the Michigan Air National Guard, retiring as a Lt. Colonel. “By transitioning away from imported coal to clean, renewable energy produced here, we can improve our energy security and save lives — 10 percent of the casualties suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq were at the expense of transporting fuel or protecting fuel lines.”

 More information about the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum can be found at:

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