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Why Wind for Michigan?

The energy landscape is constantly evolving and changing (just like Michigan weather). To keep energy affordable and reliable at the same time we move toward a cleaner energy future, Michigan must invest in a range of renewable energy sources across the state, from Detroit to Kalamazoo, and all the way to Sault St. Marie.

Wind energy is an increasingly viable energy source. Mixed with other sources of energy, wind power can bolster reliability and variety in Michigan’s energy supply.

How is Michigan Using Wind Power?

Michigan energy providers like DTE Energy have already invested in significant wind power infrastructure, and are generating more renewable energy at lower costs than ever before. Some of these updates include higher-output wind turbine designs and new software applications.

Read below to learn how Michigan can benefit from wind power.

·        Wind could save you money. Because the fuel is free, costs to consumers stay low. On average, wind power costs between two and six cents per kilowatt-hour, making it one of the cheapest energy sources in the country.

·        Wind power is good for the economy. Contributing more than $20 billion to the United States economy every year, wind power allows us to be competitive in the energy market. Michigan residents are seeing revenue greatly benefit their communities as well. Tuscola County voted in favor of a millage that gave the local Akron-Fairgrove Public School District $3 million to improve the school for agreeing to host wind turbines.

·        Wind creates jobs. Wind power jobs are in abundance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 100,000 people have been employed in the wind sector. That number is expected to exceed 600,000 by the year 2050. Furthermore, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that Michigan hosts 120 companies that supply the tools necessary to harness wind power.

·        Wind energy is good for the environment. Not only will energy bills be lower, you can feel good knowing that your use of wind power comes with less impact on the environment.

·        There is no scarcity of wind power. In Michigan, at least, we don’t have to worry about running out of wind. Maps of Michigan’s wind farms illustrate that the majority of wind turbines are located in the thumb region where turbines turn the continuous gusts off of Lake Huron into energy that helps power Michigan’s entire grid. Wind energy installations can also be found in the UP and other areas of the state.

As older coal-fired power plants continue to shut their doors across the Midwest, it is important for Michigan—as well as other states nationwide—to look toward the future of energy. By continuing to invest in wind energy and modernizing existing structures, the future of Michigan energy is bright.


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Fact Friday: What it Means to Choose MI Energy

Choosing Michigan means choosing energy policies that prioritize Michigan jobs, drive our economy, and support our schools, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, environment, and much more. Our landmark 2016 energy legislation set us on the right path to secure a bright, affordable, and reliable Michigan energy future. Below are just a few reminders of how choosing local energy means choosing Michigan.

Choose Michigan: Back to School

Education is a critical priority in Michigan, and local energy providers not only keep schools supplied with reliable power but also fund local schools through tax revenue.

Choose Michigan: Energy + Agriculture = Prosperity

Michigan’s agriculture industry is a major economic sector for the state, helping to support Michigan jobs and keep our communities — rural and urban alike — strong and prosperous.

Choose Michigan: Tourism & Hospitality

Tourism, travel, and hospitality support thousands of Michigan jobs. In 2015, the leisure and hospitality sector added an estimated 11,000 jobs with an additional 20,000 positions to be filled through 2017.

The Economic Impact of Local Energy Investment: Construction, Building, and Design

Designing and building new power plants, renewable projects, and other infrastructure improvements helps support a thriving construction industry that employs hundreds of thousands of skilled Michigan workers.

Choose Local Safety and Health
Public safety and health represent a significant percentage of the budget for most Michigan cities and towns — from local police and fire personnel and equipment to ambulance services, 24/7 911 service, safety and emergency response training for citizens, and more.

CHOOSE MICHIGAN ENERGY!

Local energy providers support local businesses, education, and services in ways that out-of-state energy providers can’t match. As we head into a new year in 2018, let’s encourage our Michigan legislators to keep choosing Michigan!

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Turning Sunshine Into Energy: How Large-Scale Solar Benefits Michigan

Solar power already is a critical part of Michigan’s energy mix. Its role in supplying reliable, increasingly affordable energy for Michigan homes and businesses will grow in the future.

As we make the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future, there’s no doubt solar power will be a critical piece of the energy puzzle. We need the right policies in place and the right approach to ensure everyone can benefit from this renewable energy resource.

Michigan’s Large-Scale Solar

Michigan may not get the same amount of sunlight as other states, but the sheer size and scope of large-scale solar projects—sometimes called “utility-scale” or “community-based” solar—enable us to more effectively harness the power of the sun. Even as winter approaches, these large-scale solar projects are helping communities across Michigan.

Think of DTE Energy’s Lapeer solar park, which officially opened last month. It’s one of the largest utility-owned solar projects east of the Mississippi and the biggest in Michigan, producing enough energy to power 11,000 homes. Or take Consumers Energy’s Solar Gardens program, launched last fall. Partnering with Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University, the projects feature over 15,000 solar panels that allow consumers enrolled in the program to power their homes with solar energy.

Making Solar Work for Michigan

Large-scale solar projects like DTE Energy’s Lapeer solar park and Consumers Energy’s Solar Gardens offer immense benefits for consumers and the environment:

  • Less of an investment. Large-scale projects help deliver solar energy more efficiently and cost-effectively to more people, ensuring Michiganders at all income levels can access this renewable energy.
  • A more practical approach. If you live in an apartment or condo complex, it may not even be possible to install rooftop solar panels. Large solar arrays make solar power an option for all Michiganders, not just those who own single-family homes and can afford their own solar panels.
  • Increased cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency. Large-scale solar projects in the U.S. are significantly more cost effective than rooftop solar. It costs roughly one-half to generate the same amount of energy via large-scale solar than via rooftop panels. Moreover, generating solar power via large-scale solar avoids approximately 50 percent more carbon emissions than rooftop generation.

Smart Energy Policy to Promote Large-Scale Solar

Smart energy policies out of Lansing—like last year’s landmark energy legislation—will foster a positive environment, encouraging the development of even more large-scale solar projects. Such policies will be critical in securing a cleaner energy future for all Michiganders.

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TBT — Energy Assistance: Crisis Response vs. Prevention

Temperatures continue to drop as we head further into fall, which can only mean one thing: winter really IS coming. Experts are predicting a bitterly cold winter for the Midwest this year, and Michigan needs to be prepared to address energy assistance needs across our state.

The Best Approach for Low-Income Michiganders

When it comes to assisting low-income Michiganders, especially during our brutally cold winters, most government agencies and charitable organizations take one of two approaches. Both are vital to helping Michiganders in need, but which is the more effective solution in the long term?

While there will always be a need for emergency assistance, AMP believes that by helping households better plan for and manage their energy needs via self-sufficiency programs, we can empower Michiganders to make smarter energy decisions, and work to end the vicious “shut-off cycle” that ensnares many low-income families.

Here’s a quick reminder of how the shut-off cycle works:

  • Crisis assistance programs—like the State Emergency Relief (SER) program and The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW)provide low-income households a lifeline when time is critical, often when they are struggling to pay their bills or have had their power shut off.
  • After receiving crisis assistance to meet their most immediate needs—especially if their power is disconnected—many low-income families face reconnection fees and other charges that add up fast, causing them to fall behind on their energy bills again.
  • This can often mean needing more crisis assistance, resulting in a never-ending shut-off cycle that fails to address the root of the problem.

Crisis assistance is like addressing the symptoms of an illness, whereas self-sufficiency planning and prevention is like treating the disease as a whole. The shut-off cycle is debilitating for low-income families. AMP believes that by working to empower Michiganders with the tools they need, they can break this cycle.

Making the Most of Available Funding

Both crisis assistance and self-sufficiency programs have one thing in common: they rely on federal funding from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which in turn helps fund the Michigan Energy Assistance Program (MEAP).

Given LIHEAP’s uncertain future, Michigan should be using every federal energy assistance dollar as wisely and carefully as possible. That means focusing on solutions that provide a path to self-sufficiency. Programs that help Michiganders take control of their own energy use and manage their bills more effectively and efficiently.

Fortunately, programs like DTE Energy’s Low-Income Self-Sufficiency Program (LSP), Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy (CARE), and Helping Neighbors are helping low-income Michigan households avoid crisis situations by addressing the root cause of late or missing payments.

Do you have any questions about the two sides of the energy assistance equation? Ask us by emailing info@allianceformichiganpower.com!

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What’s NEXT for NEXUS

If you’ve been keeping up with our previous coverage of the NEXUS pipeline, you already know how important this project is for Michigan’s energy—and economic—future.

So where does the NEXUS pipeline project stand?

Below is a timeline of the major NEXUS milestones and what’s still to come as this pipeline becomes a reality:

  • In late November 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released their final environmental impact statement, approving the project.
  • In August 2017, FERC gave their final OK to NEXUS pipeline construction, formally approving the proposed construction route for the $2 billion pipeline that will run from Northeastern Ohio to Southeastern Michigan before ending at a hub in Ontario, Canada.
  • In September 2017, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the NEXUS project a water quality certification after a review to ensure it “complies with Ohio law” and protects “the environment and public health.” The decision came after months of consideration of the “technical, economic, social and environmental aspects” of the project, as well as public input via hearings and an extended comment period.
  • In October 2017, energy providers in northern Ohio broke ground and started construction. The Nexus Gas Transmission officially informed FERC that construction on the pipeline began October 16.
  • By 2018, the pipeline should be completed and ready for use.

The NEXUS pipeline project has been closely regulated and evaluated for safe construction and implementation over the past three years. In that time, federal and state regulators have weighed the benefits to our economy, determined mitigation measures to protect and preserve our environment, and received vital input from stakeholders and the public.

And What's the Economic Impact of NEXUS in Michigan?

The NEXUS pipeline will deliver not just cleaner energy to Michigan, but also incredible economic returns for our state. Below are some key numbers you need to know about the economic benefits of the pipeline for Michigan:

  • 1,500
    • The number of local jobs created from construction of the NEXUS pipeline
  • $100 million
    • Total amount in wages that will support Michigan individuals and families
  • $10 million
    • The amount of local tax revenue the pipeline project will generate, helping Michigan workers, families, and communities

The results are conclusive: once complete, the NEXUS pipeline will be an important resource for powering Michigan jobs, boosting local economies, and keeping our energy reliable.

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