Lawmakers Approve Overhaul Of Michigan’s Energy Policies

Among other things, the bills boost the amount of power to be generated using renewable resources.

Sandra Svoboda/WDET

A major rewrite of Michigan’s energy policy is on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The main focus of the bills is helping utilities replace coal-fired plants that are shutting down. That’s expensive, and utilities demanded guarantees they won’t lose too many customers to alternative energy suppliers.

The compromise preserves much of the state’s program that allows a percentage of customers to choose their energy company. It also boosts the amount of power to be generated using renewable resources.

This was one of the final acts of the Legislature before wrapping up this year’s session. And Gov. Rick Snyder says he’s happy lawmakers got this done.

“Michigan has a defined a platform for us for the next few decades, and it’s a path that I think is very strong and thoughtful.”

Critics of the policies say they’ll try to revisit some of them in 2017.

State Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) voted “no.” He said the legislation places too big a burden on people who generate their own power, and it didn’t encourage more competition between utilities and alternative energy suppliers.

Dianda says his constituents in the Upper Peninsula have very high energy costs.

“We need competition in Michigan. I feel very strongly that the states that have choice have the best prices for consumers.”

Dianda says he expects the state will have to revisit its energy plans after President-elect Donald Trump takes office.