Michigan Governor Right to Prioritize Efficiency, Could Go Further on Renewables

Going Further on Renewable Energy Could Secure More Than $9 Billion in Capital Investments

Published Mar 13, 2015

CHICAGO (March 13, 2015)—Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder today said he wants the state to use renewable energy and energy efficiency for as much as 40 percent of its power by 2025, a goal the Union of Concerned Scientist (UCS) says could be stronger to secure more benefits for the state.

“The governor is right to promote stronger renewable energy and energy efficiency goals for Michigan,” said Sam Gomberg, UCS’s lead Midwest energy analyst. “Boosting Michigan’s investment in wind, solar and energy-saving technologies is something the governor has been considering for several years and has thoroughly evaluated. The governor’s announcement is an important step forward in continuing Michigan’s transition to a clean energy economy but his proposal leaves value on the table and could go further -- as other Midwestern states are doing. Doing so could realize the public health, environmental and economic benefits greater clean energy investments can deliver.”

According to a UCS analysis, increasing Michigan’s renewable electricity standard to at least 30 percent by 2030 would drive more than $9 billion in new capital investments to the state with virtually no increase in electricity costs. The state’s current standard, which requires Michigan to source 10 percent of its electricity from renewables, levels off this year.

“Governor Snyder proposed just 19 percent of Michigan’s energy mix coming from renewables by 2025, but he could do more,” Gomberg said. “The governor commissioned a report from the Michigan Public Service Commission last year that clearly stated Michigan could readily ramp-up its use of renewables to 30 percent over the next two decades affordably and reliably.”

“Governor Snyder’s proposal comes in the wake of Michigan Democrats announcing policy pillars supporting 20 percent renewables by 2022 and raising the energy efficiency standards to 2 percent per year," Gomberg added. “This signals bipartisan support for ramping up renewables and efficiency. We’re hoping to see a strong policy proposal in the legislature this year.” 

Michigan has the most to gain by diversifying its power supply with renewables such as wind and solar and boosting efficiency investments. According to another UCS analysis released earlier this week, these resources are key to avoiding an over-reliance on natural gas, which could create complex economic and environmental risks, including price volatility, as well as water and air pollution.

“The Governor’s call for a transition away from the state’s aging and uneconomic coal plants is an important move in the right direction,” Gomberg said. “Natural gas can play a useful—but limited—role in Michigan’s transition to a clean energy economy. The state is better off with a mix that puts more emphasis on wind, solar and energy conservation.”