Library filed under Energy Policy from Michigan
A ballot campaign to double Michigan’s renewable standard risks re-politicizing the industry and causing project siting issues, some developers worry.
The three-member Michigan Public Service Commission unanimously issued a rule on a section of the state's new energy law that sets the phased-in requirement for alternative energy suppliers, who serve customers who buy power from a company other than the state's large electric utilities. Those customers include 200 school districts and thousands of businesses, which typically get cheaper rates in the program.
A report released by a commission created and appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed the state take steps to get 30 percent of its electric energy by 2025 through renewable sources, such as wind and solar energy. ...But the recommendation flies in the face of Michigan voters, who soundly rejected a 2012 ballot initiative that would have required 25 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewables.
The new proposal includes at least two major revisions to the 234-page plan approved last month in the Senate, including provisions designed to ease concerns that new regulations on alternative energy suppliers would effectively kill the state’s “electric choice” program that has allowed some big manufacturers and schools save money on their electric bills.
The bills, which have divided majority House Republicans, would update 2008 policies that govern the regulation of utility giants and their competitors, require minimum amounts of renewable sources of electricity and set efficiency benchmarks. It is a complex issue but one that affects customer bills, jobs and the environment.
“The state legislators appear to be thinking of making yet another increase to their ignorant mandate for so-called green energy,” said Leo Sonck is the supervisor-elect for Bridgehampton Township and current chairman of its planning committee. “Let's focus on safety, health, welfare and property rights, then if they can be done safely and fair to all, fine, move forward.”
After hitting the 10% level required by law, Michigan's two major utilities appear to be throttling back on adding new renewable energy sources now that they can set their own pace for becoming greener. That means ratepayers for DTE Energy and Consumers Energy will likely see stable monthly bills in the near future.
SB 437 would maintain Michigan’s 10 percent cap on customers who can participate in electric choice, but place greater restrictions on alternative energy suppliers to provide capacity and on customers who participate.
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan is headed toward no longer requiring utilities to generate a portion of their power from wind or other renewable sources because Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers instead favor setting a goal — not a new mandate. The debate is among a number of significant issues confronting legislators trying to update energy laws this fall. Some questions and answers about the green power issue:
A new study from Utah State University found that, as of 2013, Michigan’s renewable energy mandate, enacted in 2008, has cost families and businesses here a bundle: $15.1 billion overall, or $3,830 per family, compared to what we would have experienced without the mandate.
The energy proposal was more than a year in the making, and to the disappointment of environmental advocates, it does not include mandates for renewable energy or energy efficiency. But in a new twist in an old argument, people would be able to control their own renewable energy future.
Separate comprehensive energy packages emerging from the House and Senate — both of which have Republican majorities — differ on some topics, including electric choice, but committee chairs from both chambers are intent on removing efficiency standards that were adopted seven years ago. Neither packages call for a higher renewable portfolio standard, while one House Republican introduced a stand-alone bill Thursday to repeal the RPS.
Consumers and DTE oppose an expansion of the renewable energy or competition requirements. They paid for the report cited in the TV ads that says the state will need new power plants in the next three to five years.
Allen said the county could take a “breather” (moratorium) because the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act delegates policing power to a county for zoning issues for the health, safety and welfare of residents. Also of concern are court costs if the county is sued, which Allen said would add up even if the county were to win.
“When they [turbines] first came here, people didn’t think they were that bad; it wasn’t that big of a deal and it was good for the environment,” she said. “But I think with so many of them now, they’re looking at what’s happened here, and they don’t like what they see.”
Competing energy forums were held on the same day at the same location. One sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association. The other by the Informed Citizens Coalition (IICC). Michigan Capitol Confidential, a press entity in Michigan, was thrown out of the AWEA event. The story continued.
Lawmakers are at odds over a bill that would change Michigan’s definition of renewable energy to count electricity generated by burning tires, used oil and industrial waste. The Republican-backed legislation is pending in the Senate after it was approved last week on a mostly party-line vote in the House.
“This is the most reckless wind energy proposal I have ever seen ...Rep. Irwin's bill would grant carte blanche siting freedom to utility scale wind developers. Township and county governments would be totally neutered with respect to enacting any regulations to protect their local environment, endangered species or their rural citizens.”
"A difference between Ohio and Michigan is that wind turbine regulations are set at the state level in Ohio but locally in Michigan," Martis said. "If these kind of new regulations were put in place throughout Michigan, wind developers would face the need to negotiate directly with property owners instead of seeking out agreements with non-participating parties.
Renewable energy in Ohio, like Michigan, must be produced in-state. But a proposed law in the Buckeye State could soon change that mandate. The bill in Ohio also would require a re-examination of the state's renewable energy.