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Innovative Solutions Help Meet Michigan’s Net Zero Goals

Michigan is on the right path to a cleaner energy future, thanks to the efforts of local energy providers, government agencies and regulators, and concerned consumers who are stepping up to increase their own energy efficiency and participate in voluntary green pricing programs.

Recently, Governor Whitmer increased Michigan’s commitment to securing a cleaner, more sustainable energy future by signing two executive orders requiring state buildings and infrastructure to be carbon-neutral in the next 30 years.

This directive—which essentially sets a “goal of net-zero carbon usage in the construction and operation of all state facilities by 2050” mirrors the voluntary pledges both local energy providers Consumers Energy and DTE Energy have made to reach net zero emissions in a similar, if not shorter, timeframe.

Thinking Outside of the Box

Exactly how Michigan as a state will reach net zero emissions is still somewhat up in the air, but it will require a comprehensive, all-of-the-above approach that involves:

Michigan is well-positioned to move forward on all these various approaches to lowering carbon emissions. Two recent developments in our state highlight exactly the kind of innovative, outside-of-the-box thinking it will take to continue leading on clean energy and carbon reduction.

Finding New Use for Old Land

This fall, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) awarded Royal Oak-based company Circle Power a five-year land lease and agreement with the government agency to develop large-scale solar arrays at two former mine sites.

The two sites include a 347-acre former iron site in the Upper Peninsula along the Wisconsin border and 7 Mile Pit, a 169-acre former sand and gravel mining site in the northern Lower Peninsula.

The project will help increase Michigan’s large-scale solar capacity and ensure more Michiganders can benefit from this renewable resource while revitalizing long-abandoned areas that have been “left in a degraded condition.” In addition to reducing carbon emissions, these projects will also provide substantial lease payments to the state while also “generating state and local revenue through property taxes.”

Growing Carbon-Reduction Solutions

In other news from the DNR, the agency is moving forward on a plan to “shrink the state’s carbon footprint” through a carbon-credit program in the Pigeon River Country State Forest.

Still in the pre-planning stages, this potential project would be “the first of its kind on state forestland,” according to state officials. The project would allow companies that produce carbon emissions to offset and reduce their carbon footprint by buying carbon credits from organizations like the DNR.

The revenue raised from selling carbon credits would then be used to plant more trees in state forests, including the 108,000-acre Pigeon River Country State Forest. According to estimates, “one tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year. By the time it’s 40, it can store one ton of the gas.”

If successful, this program could help “lower pollution, slow the effects of climate change, and create a better Michigan for families and small businesses across the state, according to Governor Whitmer.

We’re All in This Together

The bottom line is this: it will take all of us—local energy providers, government agencies, private companies, and concerned consumers—working together to reduce carbon emissions and help Michigan reach its net zero goals.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Understanding Net Zero blog series, including:

How do you think Michigan should be working to lower carbon emissions and increase clean energy in our state? Let us know by commenting on our latest post on Facebook!