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Experts Discuss Michigan’s Energy Future

As you know, securing Michigan’s energy future and boosting our economy by moving toward greater energy independence are among AMP’s primary goals.  There are, of course, differing views among policy experts on how to accomplish these goals, and the debate will likely be coming to a head over the next year or two due to a couple of key factors:

1) Some requirements in Michigan’s current energy law are set to sunset in 2015. 

2) New EPA regulations mandate significantly reduced carbon emissions from power plants.

A recent statewide feature story asked a handful of the most influential Michigan energy policy experts what they think our state’s energy future will look like in 20 years.  While each expert emphasized different priorities, there was far more agreement on the general principles than one might expect from such a diverse group. 

Balanced Regulations

Many of the experts discussed the need for crafting regulations that are balanced and flexible to encourage investment and innovation for the next generation of Michigan energy – while keeping energy affordable. 

State Representative Aric Nesbitt, chair of the Michigan House Energy and Technology Committee said his committee has been looking “closely at affordability” in shaping Michigan’s next energy policy. “We are taking a methodical look through the committee process as we approach 2015 to see over the last seven years what has been effective and what has not, in terms of cost, quality and efficiency,” said Nesbitt. 
 
DTE Energy’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Nick Khouri also emphasized the need for balanced and flexible regulations that encourage investment in Michigan.   He said that the company’s main policy goals include “[having] the right regulatory structure to allow for those long-term investments in the system, enough flexibility to be able to respond as market conditions and technologies change, and a priority on affordability for customers to make sure electricity costs do not pose a barrier to economic growth.”  

Energy Diversity

The need for balanced regulation reinforced the general consensus that there won’t be a single solution to meeting the energy challenges we will face over the next two decades.   If we invest in different types of energy resources, we are more likely to be able to meet our needs with affordable, reliable energy and strengthen our energy independence.

Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, said his group embraces an “all-of-the-above” energy approach.  “Everything across the spectrum we would like to see expanded upon.”

“The theme in our industry has always been diversity,” added Khouri. 

Clearly, accessing a wide array of energy resources will be an important part of securing a bright future for Michigan—something AMP fully supports.  In order to keep energy prices stable now and in the future, we will need to use all the energy resources available to us. 

Long-Term Planning

Finally, the idea that the decisions we make now will determine our long-term energy future carried a lot of weight with the experts. 

“I am in favor of long-term, state-level energy planning and long-term utility planning,” explained Sarah Mullkoff of the Michigan Environmental Council.

Chairman Nesbitt, added that part of long-term planning is evaluating what has worked so far – and then asking questions for Michigan’s next energy policy: “What makes sense going into the future, especially with the closure of some of these coal-fired power plants because of EPA regulation?” 

Fortunately, our elected officials seem eager to work with policy experts, local energy providers, and community members to address Michigan’s energy needs now and in the future.  While the details might be complex, we’re hopeful that Michigan lawmakers will get it right—and AMP will be working to ensure they do. 

Now that you’ve heard what some of Michigan’s energy experts think – tell us why affordable, reliable energy is important to YOU. We’d love to feature some of your stories on our website and social media accounts!