New Michigan Energy Report: Renewables and Energy Efficiency Are Enough to Power the State

For Immediate Release

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Josh Mogerman, 312-651-7909

New Michigan Energy Report: Renewables and Energy Efficiency Are Enough to Power the State

Analysis shows clean energy technologies can lower energy costs and boost state economy

CHICAGO -  Michigan’s power needs can be delivered by a combination of wind
power, biomass, and other sources of renewable energy coupled with
aggressive energy efficiency programs, according to a new energy report
from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report comes as
the Michigan Public Service Commission is set to make recommendations
to the Department of Environmental Quality on the need for power and
availability of cleaner alternative to coal later this month.

"Michiganders
need to think about energy like an investor right now,” said Rebecca
Stanfield, a senior energy advocate at NRDC. “Would you put all your
money towards yesterday’s dirty technology? No. And Michigan ratepayers
shouldn’t be saddled with that sort of risky investment either. The
state has the enviable opportunity to rebuild its economy with cutting
edge energy technologies which will create jobs and clean the air.”

A Green Energy Alternative for Michigan,
written by Synapse Energy Economic, a nationally recognized consulting
firm on energy and environmental issues, is a deep analysis of the
state’s projected electricity demand, the liabilities associated with
air and global warming pollution, as well as the opportunities offered
by clean energy technologies for job creation, industrial investment,
and resilience in the face of changing circumstances. The report shows
that by displacing traditional fossil fuel energy, the energy
efficiency program alone could save Michigan $3 billion in electricity
costs over the next 20 years. Efficiency savings combined with the
potential of 27,000 GWh of power from clean energy technologies can
fulfill the state’s power needs.

Michigan policymakers
are on the cusp of making important decisions regarding the state’s
energy future. Already, the state has taken some important steps in
shaping that energy future by establishing binding targets for
renewable-resources, and mandating comprehensive energy planning for
utilities. Michigan also has a climate action plan, and a requirement
for the Department of Environmental Quality to consider the need for
all prudent alternatives to the construction of any new coal-fired
power plant. The report’s analysis holds the following lessons for
Michigan:

  • The state’s previous energy
    plan, written in 2007, is today out of date, with unrealistic
    projections of future electrical demand, limited deployment of energy
    efficiency and renewables, and reliance on 20th Century coal technologies.
  • Michigan’s
    most-attractive energy choice by any measure is energy efficiency,
    which can be quickly implemented, save energy, make businesses more
    productive, lower energy bills, create jobs, avoid pollution, and keep
    money in Michigan. Programs that promote cost-effective efficiency make
    the single best energy investment available to Michigan citizens,
    business, and institutions.
  • A portfolio of 21st Century choices is less expensive, cleaner, faster, more economically robust, and creates more jobs in Michigan than a 20th Century plan based on new large fossil-fired power plants.

“A
smart energy future for Michigan is one that takes advantage of a
diverse and distributed array of clean energy resources,” said David
Schlissel of Synapse, one of the report’s authors. “Right now, there is
breathing room to really plan a smart new energy infrastructure in the
state due to the current lull in electricity consumption. It is an
important opportunity to develop a system that will reduce energy
demand and provide new, clean energy even as the economy recovers. I
hope Michigan will take advantage.”

This report
discusses policies and measures that are cost-effective and have
measurable benefits. The clean energy portfolio outlined in the report
promotes economic recovery within the state in three ways:

  • Creating
    jobs in the manufacture and/or installation of wind turbines and solar
    cells, and implementation of efficiency improvement to homes,
    businesses and other buildings;
  • Retaining energy dollars in-state that would otherwise be used to purchase energy resources and services out-of-state; and
  • Leading to lower future energy costs, thereby promoting the general economic health of Michigan businesses and citizens.

A Green Energy Alternative for Michigan was commissioned by NRDC and is available online at http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/ene_09081101.asp

A recording of this morning’s press briefing is available today at https://cc.readytalk.com/play?id=rmfm8

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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