Last week, Governor Rick Snyder unveiled his much-anticipated energy plan for Michigan, which includes finding and utilizing more renewable and energy efficient power sources for the state over the next 10 years. Snyder says the continued push toward modernizing Michigan’s energy supply would –and has already been– benefiting manufacturers, businesses and families, but it’s a push that he says should come from the market and not from the government. So, can Michigan become a leader in clean energy when Snyder’s latest plan is packed with goals, but missing mandates?
Host Stephen Henderson is joined by Wayne State University Transnational Environmental Law Clinic Director Nick Schroeck to unpack Snyder’s address and discuss the future of energy in Michigan.
“For a long time, our utilities have been able to externalize costs for things like asthma because of poor air quality,” and Schroeck says that the governor’s acknowledgement of the negative health impacts of outdated energy sources was refreshing. “That’s a huge step forward for our energy policy,” Schroeck says . Snyder also touched on methods to tackle waste reduction and increase wind and solar energy in Michigan. However if the state is going to get to Snyder’s proposed energy goal (30 to 40 percent renewable by 2025), Schroeck says that partnerships between environmental organizations and the Legislature are crucial.
“We have to look at better ways and better strategies… we need to look at retiring some of these old, dirty coal plants and go in new directions,” says Schroeck.
Stephen also points out Michigan’s regulated utility structure, which –if changed– could potentially lower rates and increase competition. However, Schroeck points out that there are many factors, including deregulation, that could impact utility rates in other states, so it’s difficult to attribute it solely to a deregulated utility structure. But, when Michigan uses about 30 percent more energy than the national average, it’s clear that something needs to change.
“Places like Detroit, when you have older housing stock, people can’t necessarily afford to buy new furnaces,” Schroeck notes. However, when we can start supplying people in these communities with the tools and financial resources they need to insulate their homes or put in new windows, we can begin to mitigate some of the energy waste coming from these outdated systems.