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2018 State of the State: Priorities that Aren’t Possible without Reliable Michigan Energy

Last week, Governor Snyder delivered his 2018 State of the State Address in front of the Michigan State Legislature in Lansing. The Governor discussed his outlook and priorities for Michigan in 2018, many of which are only possible if we also support a strong, vibrant energy sector and a robust, 21st-century electric grid. In case you missed it, you can watch the Governor’s speech in full here.

Record of Achievements

In his final State of the State, Governor Snyder kicked things off by touting the improvements Michigan has made under his leadership since taking office in 2011, including:

  • Creating more than 540,000 private-sector jobs, making Michigan #1 in the Great Lakes states and sixth nationally for private-sector job growth over the past seven years.
  • Adding more than 120,000 manufacturing jobs, putting Michigan atop the nation for the creation of new jobs in that sector.
  • Helping the auto industry rebound and recover, with 76 percent of the research and development in the U.S. auto industry happening right here in Michigan.
  • Growing the state’s thriving, diverse agriculture and food industry to the milestone of $100 billion in total economic impact.
  • Creating a positive environment to attract new businesses, talent, and families to our state, resulting in the first net increase in Michigan’s population since the turn of the century.

Every economic advancement the Governor mentioned depended on reliable, affordable energy. Michigan’s commitment to energy produced by Michiganders for Michiganders has helped foster growth not only in our energy sector but also in key sectors like manufacturing and agriculture.

Building Michigan's Next-Generation Workforce

The Governor also discussed how his administration has addressed and improved the state of education in Michigan. He noted Michigan’s early middle college programs grew from 12 in 2011 to 136 today, giving more high school students a chance to get a head start on college. Expanding and strengthening career technical education will also continue to be a priority to build a pool of skilled trade employees who are career ready.

Michigan’s energy sector will be a key source of the job opportunities when today’s students enter tomorrow’s workforce. Of the current energy sector employees, roughly a third or more will retire by the end of the decade. Finding qualified talent with trade and technical skills—new hires who can support the evolution of our electric system—will be critical to replace these retiring workers. Local energy providers have picked up on the Governor’s request for more technical skill programs, and have created opportunities for Michiganders through summer youth programs and job training programs.

The Run Down

Governor Snyder addressed a wide range of other issues his administration has prioritized over the years and outlined his six key priorities for 2018 and beyond—mobility, talent, education, infrastructure, fiscal responsibility, and civility—and his vision for addressing each of these issues to help create a stronger, more vibrant, forward-thinking Michigan.

The 2018 State of the State focused on creating a growing, thriving Michigan powered by a strong economy, diverse workforce, committed local businesses, and the hard work and dedication of everyday Michiganders.

AMP has shared these goals for the last four years, and we will continue to advocate for policies that strengthen our economy and communities by ensuring Michigan has a strong energy infrastructure that keeps businesses, schools, services, and homes powered with reliable, affordable energy.

For more key takeaways from the Governor’s eighth and final State of the State address, check out this article on MLive.

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Flashback Friday: A Fair, Flexible, and Future-Focused Energy Plan for MI

Michigan is proud to be energy independent and, with the help of responsible regulation, we can keep it that way.

The national energy landscape is constantly evolving and Michigan is specifically working to implement our 2016 energy law. That means local energy providers and legislators are working hard to make sure our policies support a system that is fair, flexible, and future-focused.

AMP’s three Fs—fair, flexible, and future — are a good “North Star” when it comes to crafting and implementing energy policies that are right for Michigan. Lansing officials should make it a priority to:

  • Allow Michigan the flexibility to implement renewables and encourage energy mixing in ways that are economically responsible and protect reliability
  • Continue to secure the state’s future energy independence by encouraging investment in Michigan’s energy infrastructure
  • Ensure every consumer is treated fairly by prioritizing the needs of Michiganders above all else

On this Flashback Friday, take a look at some of the energy milestones and progress the Wolverine State has celebrated recently:

  • 2016 Energy Law: Known as the Nofs-Proos legislation when it was debated back in 2015 and 2016, the 2016 energy law was a bipartisan answer to a question facing all Michiganders: How do we keep energy affordable and reliable while also making it cleaner and more sustainable? The 2016 energy law puts consumers first and helps Michigan further secure its energy independence. The legislation passed both chambers of the state legislature with overwhelming support from each side of the aisle.
  • NEXUS Pipeline: This major natural gas pipeline project connecting Michigan and Ohio will increase our access to safe, clean-burning natural gas. This is a big success in making Michigan even more flexible by diversifying our state’s energy mix. “Michigan has the most underground natural gas storage capacity in the nation,” which means the NEXUS pipeline helps us prepare for the future, too.
  • Integrated Resource Plans: Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) not only encourage a diverse energy mix, increasing our flexibility, but also lays out a plan to further incorporate new, emerging renewable energy projects without sacrificing customer affordability or reliability.

We will have a lot of work to do to ensure these achievements and milestones reach their full potential for Michigan energy. That means we still must make decisions about how best to fully secure a fair and flexible Michigan energy future.

You can learn more about the three Fs and responsible regulation by checking out our previous blog posts. If you have any questions, be sure to email info@allianceformichiganpower.org.

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Supply Chain Spotlight: Osborne Transformer Corporation

Osborne Transformer Corporation is a Detroit-area electromagnetic engineering firm that specializes in high-performance electrical transformers, inductors, and other electromagnetic components. The materials Osborne Transformer Corporation produces are vital components that help step down high-voltage electricity in order for it to be used in commercial and residential settings.

A Family Affair

Osborne Transformer Corporation, a third-generation, family-owned business, has manufactured electrical transformers specifically for Michigan-based energy companies since 1932.

In the late 1920s, founder Robert Osborne began experimenting with electromagnetic core and coil, laying the foundation for the future of Osborne products. Now a small business with 10 full-time employees, the company is known for its world-class electromagnetic design.

Over the years, the Osborne Transformer Corporation has forged business partnerships with some of Michigan’s top economic sectors, including the electric power and generation, automotive, and machine tool industries. And while it’s a homegrown business, Osborne partners with major organizations both in state and beyond, including NASA, DTE Energy, Intel, Ford, and more.

An Electrifying Relationship with Energy

As a manufacturer of transformers and inductors, James Osborne understands more than most how reliable, affordable energy—produced by Michiganders for Michiganders—helps support local jobs and strengthen our economy.

According to Osborne, “Our business and the work it provides exist because we have energy production in this state…ensur[ing] that Michigan power is produced in state [will] provide stable jobs for many years to come.”

Osborne Transformer Corporation both relies on a stable supply of electricity to design and build electrical transformers and helps contribute to energy reliability through its end-use products. Small-business owners like James Osborne know that a thriving energy supply chain means a thriving job market for Michigan.

In case you missed them, be sure to check out our previous supply chain blog posts on Spectrum Construction Services, Diversified Minority Services, and Aaron’s Fabrication.

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Natural Gas: A Growing Piece of Michigan’s Energy Puzzle

Whether its wind, solar, hydro power, nuclear, natural gas, or any other source of energy, what matters most is keeping energy in Michigan affordable, reliable, and sustainable. States like Michigan that use a variety of energy sources are best positioned to meet these goals.

One key piece of Michigan's energy future—possibly the biggest piece—is natural gas. Investing in Michigan's energy future means investing in the infrastructure that will support natural gas as a major fuel source for decades to come.

The Future of Natural Gas

Natural gas has become an increasingly cost-effective energy resource since the 1990s, thanks to its affordability and clean-burning capabilities. Developments like the NEXUS pipeline are allowing Michigan to harness the benefits of natural gas and update our energy mix to remain stable, efficient, and affordable as our older power plants close and we transition to cleaner, more efficient energy generation.

Michigan energy providers are developing renewables like wind and solar at an accelerated pace and are currently the largest investors in renewable energy for our state. But renewable energy alone cannot keep electricity reliable and affordable 24 hours a day, seven days a week – so natural gas likely will become Michigan's primary source of energy in the coming decades.

Luckily, Michigan is well positioned to leverage natural gas for electricity almost immediately. Much of the necessary natural gas infrastructure already is in place. Investing in updates and maintenance to existing transmission lines will allow our state to capitalize on this safer, cleaner source of energy.

Natural Gas in the Great Lakes Region

We know Michigan's landscape is conducive to many types of energy, and most of the time people point to wind. However, our state's geography also is ideal for supporting, storing and producing natural gas. "Michigan has the most underground natural gas storage capacity in the nation, and has the second-largest number of natural gas storage fields after Pennsylvania." Michigan's geography is also ripe for natural gas development; the Antrim Gas Field in the northern region of the Lower Peninsula has produced more than 90 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Heating your Home vs. Powering your Home

More than 75 percent of Michigan households use natural gas as their primary source for home heating, but using natural gas to heat your home is different than converting natural gas to electricity. Combustion turbine technology burns natural gas, creating pressure that causes turbines to rotate, generating electricity the grid then can transmit to homes and businesses statewide.

A Resource for the Future

Michigan already is capitalizing on the benefits of natural gas, but a continued focus on investing in our state's energy future will allow us to better prepare for the changing energy landscape. Natural gas is a cleaner, safer, and more efficient resource that has and will continue to benefit our state in the coming years. An investment in natural gas is an investment in Michigan's energy future.

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This Holiday, Give the Gift of Energy Assistance

Many Michigan families are trimming trees, wrapping presents, and making spirits bright in preparation for the holidays. For some low-income families, however, the holiday season’s frigid winter weather conditions create considerable anxiety as simply keeping the heat on can leave them facing tough choices.

Michigan has a variety of resources available for those in need, and many ways you can help people in your community who may be struggling. Read below to learn just a few ways you can share the gift of energy assistance so every Michigan family can enjoy a warm, safe holiday season.

  •         The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW). This non-profit organization has distributed more than $172 million in assistance to keep more than 232,000 Michigan homes warm since its founding in 1985. THAW aims to help the elderly, unemployed, and disabled who may be unable to heat their homes. With four different assistance programs available, Michigan families can apply for the program best suiting their needs to help reduce or even eliminate the cost of heating a home. Want to give the gift of energy assistance? Consider donating by visiting THAW’s website.
  •         Michigan Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP). The Michigan state government understands how brutal winters can be and has allocated funds to the Michigan Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. LIHEAP provides assistance to Michigan families of any size who meet basic State Emergency Relief (SER) guidelines. Families can apply online or call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for more details.
  •        Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (DHS). Michigan DHS also will help low-income families defer energy costs through three different programs: a home heating credit, state emergency relief, or weatherization assistance. Each program tackles various home energy issues from heating and electricity to wall insulation and smoke detector testing. To learn more about how to apply for Michigan DHS assistance, visit their website.
  •        Michigan Community Action. This organization helps close the energy affordability gap by supporting community action agencies in Michigan who can work directly with low-income families. Michigan Community Action estimates low-income families spend 20 to 30 percent of their income just to heat their homes, whereas middle class or wealthy families only pay 7 to 10 percent. Michigan Community Action provides more information about their assistance programs for energy optimization, utility assistance, and weatherization assistance online.
  •        Consumers Energy Assistance. If you or someone you know needs help making ends meet this month, Consumers Energy has a variety of assistance programs available for varying levels of need. Check out their Critical Care Program, or help someone in your neighborhood with the Helping Neighbors Energy Efficiency Assistance. They’ll help you set up a budget and payment plan too!
  •        DTE Gift of Energy. Do you know someone who may need a little extra help this holiday season? You can give the Gift of Energy through DTE. Pay a portion of someone’s energy bill who could use a helping hand. This is particularly helpful for low-income families or relatives living on a fixed income.

Making Every Michigander’s Holiday Bright and Warm

Many of us take energy for granted, but some Michigan families are particularly aware of the struggles a cold winter brings. Keeping the heat and lights on shouldn’t be a luxury for anyone this time of year, and it’s a matter of life and death for some of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. This holiday season, give the gift of energy assistance by supporting one of the programs listed above, or direct a family in need to the right resource.

For more information, contact your friends at AMP by emailing us at info@allianceformichiganpower.com

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