Standing with Mayor Heartwell of Grand Rapids in a green building, Environment Michigan Research & Policy Center released an in-depth study showing how clean energy can help revitalize Michigan’s economy. According to an innovative peer-reviewed model in Energizing Michigan’s Economy: Creating Jobs, Reducing Pollution with Energy Efficiency and Renewable Electric Power, strong commitments to renewable energy and energy efficiency would generate at least the following benefits (through 2020):
“Now is the time for Michigan to take bold steps towards becoming the epicenter of clean energy development,” said Mike Shriberg, Director of Environment Michigan and co-author of the report. “Doing so will reinvigorate our economy, create the jobs of today and tomorrow, save consumers money, and protect our environment.”
Two core policies are needed to achieve these benefits: 1) A Renewable Energy Standard that requires 20% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020; 2) An Energy Efficiency Fund of $225 million per year. Implementing these policies would eliminate the need for new power plant construction, thus saving ratepayers billions in rate increases and reducing the $20 billion per year that Michiganders spend on energy imports.
“Michiganders are sending the equivalent of $1,700 per person to other states to meet our energy needs,” said Kim Pargoff, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment Michigan. “With energy efficiency and renewables, we keep our hard-earned money working for Michigan while reducing pollution.”
With Michigan’s economy in crisis and our energy path at a crossroads, the Governor and Legislature are debating an overhaul of energy policy that will have major implications for ratepayers and public health. The report directly compares the Granholm-ordered 21st Century Energy Plan with a strong commitment to clean energy. The results show that the 21st Century Energy Plan would bring in only 1/3 as many jobs and approximately half the consumer savings of strong policies because of its tepid recommendations on clean energy.
“A bold, clean electricity plan will energize Michigan’s economy”, stated David Pettit, Consumer Associate for Public Interest Research Group in Michigan. “The first step in that plan is to invest in the cheapest and cleanest resource available – energy efficiency.”
As the report highlights, Michigan is uniquely positioned to become a global leader in clean energy research and development, and high-tech manufacturing because of its unparalleled industrial base.
“Michigan has a once-in-a-generation chance to change course – from old and dirty fossil fuel-based energy to a more efficient economy powered by renewable energy,” concluded Shriberg. “The key is strong, visionary commitments from our leaders.”
Read the full report
Source: West Michigan Environmental Action Council
Photo: Jeff Brooktree