UPPER THUMB – Under proposed legislation that was introduced this week in Lansing, Michigan would generate 50 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2035.
Proponents say the package of bills would reduce energy costs, create jobs and build upon recently enacted energy laws.
However, about 2,000 Huron County residents recently said “enough is enough” to wind development in a recent referendum.
Huron County has more wind turbines than any county in Michigan.
“We’ve got all this going with green energy and nobody else is really involved in it,” said State Rep. Edward J. Canfield.
He told the Tribune he could tell that people are concerned about the issue, which Canfield considers to be a local one.
Canfield said he does support green energy and that local turbines support farming incomes.
“But I also believe that voters have the right to make their choice as well,” he said.
He said he would not support the proposed legislation unless there are “significant improvements in green energy production.”
“I’m very supportive of green energy,” Canfield said. “I want us to have clean energy, but I also want us to be smart about it.”
State Sen. Phil Pavlov, a St. Clair Republican who represents Huron, St. Clair and Sanilac counties and parts of Macomb County, said he would not support the legislation if it makes it past the House Energy Committee.
“I don’t see any action in either chamber on that proposal,” he told the Tribune.
“It’s pretty common for democrats to drive higher mandated percentages on renewables,” Pavlov said. “It’s consistent with what they typically do.”
State Sen. Rebekah Warren, an Ann Arbor Democrat, introduced part of the bill package that also increases the energy efficiency standard to 2 percent energy savings per year, beginning in 2022.
“Our legislation that increases the renewable energy standard to 50 percent by 2035 will spur innovation in Michigan’s clean energy industry and create good jobs for Michiganders,” she stated in a press release.
“Expanding renewable energy will boost Michigan’s green energy sector and make our state a national leader within this emerging industry,” Warren added.
Energy laws enacted in April increased the renewable energy standard to 15 percent by 2021 and maintained the current energy efficiency standard of 1 percent, which sunsets in 2021.
“Burning fossil fuels like coal and oil spews dangerous pollutants into our air and water, and this legislation will improve the health of Michigan families, children and seniors,” stated Rep. Jon Hoadley, a Kalamazoo Democrat, in the release.
“Accelerating the transition away from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy will protect the health of Michiganders, reduce asthma and lung disease and ultimately save lives,” he added.
Warren and Hoadley are introducing bills that would increase the renewable energy standard. Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, a Taylor Democrat, and Rep. Donna Lasinski, a Democrat form Scio Township, will introduce bills that would increase the energy efficiency standard.
“The cheapest electricity is the electricity we don’t use, and boosting investment in energy efficiency will rein in rising electricity costs while reducing pollution,” stated Lasinski in the press release. “The current energy efficiency standards have saved ratepayers more than $5 billion since 2009, which is why we should double down on reducing energy waste to save ratepayers money while making Michigan a leader in designing and manufacturing energy-efficient appliances that fuel our economy.”
“Reducing pollution in our air and water supports our tourism industry, which drives Michigan’s economy and attracts visitors from across the globe to our amazing beaches, lakes and rivers,” Hopgood said. “Expanding clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency is good for our economy and will help protect our precious Great Lakes, which are part of our culture, our way of life and our economy. That’s why this legislation is so important, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bold package.”
Rep. Gary Glenn, a Republican from Larkin Township, chairs the House Energy Committee.
He recently conducted a town hall meeting in Caro, where he stated he was opposed to the mandate enacted in April, and would like to repeal it.
Gov. Rick Snyder’s goal is 40 percent renewable energy, Glenn said in May.
He said 2019 to 2020 could be a “golden window of opportunity on all these issues.”
Michigan will have a new governor and a different senate, he said.
“We’re going to use the next two years as a bully pulpit to beat the drum for freedom of choice at the local level for competition in the marketplace, whatever it takes to bring prices down,” Glenn told the crowd, most of whom were opposed to expanding wind development in the Thumb.