This month, Consumers Energy – one of Michigan’s largest utility companies – announced that it was abandoning plans to build a new, expensive and dirty coal plant in Bay City, as well as idle seven other unneeded plants across the state. For Michigan residents and electric consumers, this is a great victory. But more importantly, this now offers a moment of opportunity for Michigan to once again lead – not follow – the nation in promoting a clean energy economy. Unfortunately, when it comes to being a leader for Michigan’s future energy needs, Gov. Snyder is asleep on the job.
Over the past year, Gov. Snyder has been sitting on his hands as Michigan loses opportunities to promote clean energy jobs here in our state. Instead of supporting the clean energy future with strong policies, Gov. Snyder and his administration have been supporting the past: approving permits for dirty, expensive, and unhealthy coal. Thus, we’ve lost ground and other states and countries have gotten ahead of us in the clean energy sector.
Utility companies like Consumers Energy are realizing that polluting coal plants are not the way to go – Gov. Snyder should too. Companies are abandoning ship when it comes to coal because they know there are now smarter, less expensive, and more efficient options available, such as wind and solar. The price of coal increased 43 percent last year alone, while at the same time, the price of renewable energy is falling. Michigan also imports the majority of the coal it uses from out-of-state companies to the tune of $1.36 billion a year. It’s time we invest in energy solutions in Michigan, not other states.
Not only would a clean energy economy be a more cost-effective strategy for meeting Michigan’s energy needs, but it would also be a healthier option for Michigan families. Let’s not forget that moving away from coal protects our children, families and natural resources, including the Great Lakes. Byproducts from the burning of coal – including mercury, ash and other pollutants – poison our water systems and threaten our states tourism business, a multi-billon dollar industry.
Gov. Snyder has a chance to lead – he can start by taking proposals for two, new dirty coal plants in Holland and Rogers City off the table. The sooner Gov. Snyder comes to the same consensus Michigan utilities like Consumers Energy have come to, the better. Outdated, 20th century coal is the past – clean, renewable energy is the future.
Gov. Snyder – Michigan families are waiting. Seize the opportunity to move Michigan’s clean energy economy forward.