Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011
Ahead of PSC meeting, Snyder administration and utilities have chance to embrace clean energy economy, create jobs in Michigan
LANSING – Clean energy advocacy and environmental groups today urged Gov. Rick Snyder to abandon his continued support for coal in Michigan in the wake of Consumers Energy’s announcement last week to forgo a proposed 830-megawatt coal plant near Bay City in favor of clean energy alternatives. The groups today said this decision, along with a plan to mothball seven other coal facilities, presents a prime opportunity for Michigan to lead the nation in developing a strong clean energy economy that will create good-paying jobs and make our economy more competitive in the 21st century.
“Utilities like Consumers Energy are realizing that polluting coal plants are no longer economically viable and are unneeded in Michigan – Gov. Snyder should follow suit,” said Bruce Nilles, national director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “Instead of leading the charge for Michigan’s clean energy economy, Gov. Snyder has sat on his hands for the past year, losing countless opportunities to promote clean energy and create good-paying jobs to other states and countries. Michigan needs a leader for its clean energy economy.”
Next Tuesday, the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) will hold a hearing on whether to grant rate increases to electric users. Citizens groups today cautioned that inaction by the governor and the PSC means that Michigan’s ratepayers could pay more in electricity rates, having to foot the bill for large, obsolete coal plants that are inefficient and prevent Michigan from creating more clean energy jobs.
“Gov. Snyder and the Public Service Commission have a prime opportunity to push utilities to transition to renewable energy sources and increase energy efficiency which will save ratepayers money,” said Susan Harley, Michigan policy director for Clean Water Action. “In order to protect ratepayers, moving toward a clean energy economy should be a priority of the state as well as developing a 21st century energy plan that isn’t driven by burning dirty coal and other fossil fuels.”
Michigan can meet its energy needs through a combination of wind power, biomass, and other renewable energy sources coupled with aggressive energy efficiency programs, according to a 2009 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report also states that renewable energy sources create more jobs than previous, 20th century plans that rely on large power plants driven by fossil fuels.
“Michigan needs to embrace clean energy sources, which will help to strengthen our economy and create good-paying jobs and they must act now,” said Douglas Jester, senior consultant for 5 Lakes Energy. “Renewable sources of energy are less expensive, cleaner and more economically sound ways to meet our energy needs. We can’t delay any longer — every day we wait is another day that we fall further behind other states.”
The groups also called Gov. Snyder and the PSC to require utility companies to develop plans that will ensure an equitable transition for the communities and workers who may be economically impacted by retirement of aging coal units. This includes 25 existing coal plants across the state.