Renewable Energy Plan for Michigan

June 18, 2007

Michigan Wind Power Map: Image Source: State of MichiganA proposed 21st Century Renewable Energy Plan was introduced last week for the state of Michigan. This is something that the state badly needs. Other states have been pushing forward programs to develop their energy efficiency and renewability, such as the Million Solar Roofs in California, or the western states' "Transitioning the West to Clean Energy and Energy Security." As I mentioned earlier, Michigan, with it's present building code, has one of the worst energy standards in the country. One aspect of this new legislative proposal is to "promote energy conservation through updated construction codes and consumer tax credits for energy-efficient appliances."

The key elements of the plan:

  • Require that renewable energy sources – such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and biomass-based power – account for 10 percent of the state’s energy production by 2015. The plan sets a goal of 25 percent by 2025.
  • Foster more "alternative-energy renaissance zones" across the state by including solar and wind generation and fuel-cell technologies among those that qualify for renaissance zone tax abatements, helping to spur local investment in renewable energy.
  • Promote energy conservation through updated construction codes and consumer tax credits for energy-efficient appliances.
  • Provide tax credits for the purchase of solar equipment.
  • Establishes a statewide target of reducing electricity consumption by 1 percent per year.

"The same state that gave birth to the auto industry will pave the way for the renewable energy economy and the good-paying jobs that go with it," said State Representative Robert Dean (D-Grand Rapids). "By investing in renewable energy, we will create jobs, fight global warming and protect our Great Lakes."

It was also noted that Michigan ranks second in the Great Lakes region for wind generation potential, but has not yet capitalized on that potential. Only recently, as well, has net metering begun to take effect. And Michigan is also the state where one of the big utilities tried to keep a middle school's wind turbine from being connected to the grid. Making renewable energy a broader portion of the state's energy portfolio and promoting energy conservation are good steps.

I have been able to find no details about how this will be specificially implemented so far. The goals are laudable, but how they are implemented needs to be seen. I also note that while solar is being proposed for tax credits, wind power is not. A forward-looking energy policy is an important piece of legislation for the state, and I hope this is something that can be passed.

I ended up having a small part in this announcement. There were a number of announcements held across the state. Rep. Kathy Angerer, the state representative whose district includes Pittsfield Township, chose to use the Pittsfield Branch Library as the location for her press conference. As the project architect for this building, I was asked to attend and to speak briefly about some of the sustainable features of the building.