CHICAGO (Dec. 19, 2013) – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced his framework today for Michigan's energy future. While the framework lacked key specifics, if enacted into law it would pave the way to reduce Michigan's reliance on coal and boost the use of abundant and affordable clean energy resources such as renewable energy and energy-saving technologies, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
The plan sets a goal to reduce the state's coal-driven power generation, which is responsible for dangerous pollution such as mercury, soot and carbon dioxide, and calls for investment in renewable energy and energy conservation. According to the recent UCS report, Ripe for Retirement: An Economic Analysis of the U.S. Coal Fleet, Michigan has one of the nation's most economically vulnerable fleets of coal-fired power plants with nearly 7,000 megawatts of at-risk coal generation.
Today's announcement follows a recent report to the governor that Michigan could cost-effectively boost the state's renewable energy standard to 30 percent with in-state resources while maintaining the reliability of the state's power supply. However, the plan's reliance on natural gas presents numerous risks, as documented in a recent UCS report, from price volatility to methane leaks from 'fracking' and transporting natural gas, to unsustainable carbon pollution.
Below is a statement from Steven Frenkel, director of the UCS Midwest office:
"The governor is right to recognize the great risk of continuing Michigan's dependence on coal to meet its energy needs. His plan could accelerate the state's transition to a more sustainable energy system based on home-grown resources such as wind power and energy saving technologies. The governor's goal to expand the state's clean energy use will benefit Michigan families and businesses, but the plan's reliance on natural gas will continue a risky dependence on fossil-fuels.
"With Michigan's current renewable energy standard leveling off in 2015, Michigan can't afford to lose momentum. Michigan's clean energy industry needs a clear signal that the state is open for business. The governor and legislature would be wise to follow the guidance of the governor's year-long discussion on Michigan's energy future and pass a bill as soon as possible to increase the state’s renewable energy standard to at least 30 percent by the year 2030. This will put Michigan on a path to a clean energy future."