On January 19, legislators gathered in Lansing to hear Governor Snyder deliver his State of the State Address.
The Governor’s comments on energy in last year’s address demonstrate that he knows energy policy is an important issue for Michigan. However, given the other critical issues that have moved to the forefront in recent weeks, energy policy was understandably absent from the agenda.
Shifting Priorities, Not Principles
There is a lot going on in Michigan these days. The crisis in Flint and the situation facing Detroit Public Schools rightfully received substantial attention during the Governor’s address. It could be costly for all Michiganders, however, if lawmakers delay resolution of our energy debate for too long.
The Governor has said before that an adaptable energy policy that ensures reliability and fairness for everyone is vital to Michigan’s continued economic success. Even in the face of shifting legislative priorities and state controversies, we must not lose sight of this reality in Lansing—or in our own living rooms.
Where We Go From Here
Despite some detractors who attempt to minimize the need to update our state’s energy policy, we still have champions in Lansing that are forging ahead. Energy issues haven’t been thrown to the sidelines just yet.
Senator Nofs has indicated he will re-start hearings on energy legislation in February, making it clear he intends to make progress on energy policy in early 2016. Senator Nofs knows that we cannot afford to lose more time when it comes to addressing the capacity shortfall that will begin with the shut-down of nine of Michigan’s coal-fired power plants this year. Michigan’s local energy providers need a stable regulatory environment to move forward with building new long-term energy capacity and developing short-term alternatives.
Representative Nesbitt is also working to build support for legislative proposals in the House, although his timeline is less clear at this stage.
Lansing has the power to get this done early in 2016. Legislators can and should make continued progress in providing a roadmap for Michigan’s energy future over the next few months, even as they work to address other vital issues like those discussed in the Governor’s State of the State address. Our thoughts are with those who are being affected by the Flint water crisis and the financial crisis in Detroit’s schools.
We will continue to watch how energy legislation develops in the midst of these challenges and provide you with updates. We appreciate the time and effort you put in to helping us move smart energy policy forward last year and will let you know when the time is right again to deliver our message to legislators in Lansing: Michigan needs a smart energy policy in place to secure our future.