Michigan: The Home for Opportunity

Governor Gretchen Whitmer laid out a broad, ambitious policy agenda in her first State of the State address on February 12. She painted a picture of the growing challenges we face in Michigan, put forth ideas for how we can address those challenges head on, and highlighted her high-level priorities for 2019 and beyond.

Even though she didn’t say much directly about energy, the Governor’s address underscored the need for smart, balanced, comprehensive energy policies and planning to keep energy clean, reliable, and affordable for all Michiganders.

Governor Whitmer outlined two major focal points when speaking about the challenges we face as a state: 1) fortifying our failing infrastructure and 2) improving education and skills development. Below are some examples of the specific challenges Governor Whitmer described when it comes to these points, and our perspective on how a strong energy sector—powered by investment in our energy infrastructure—will be part of the solution.

Challenge: Our educators deserve our support—not a funding crisis that undermines their work and weakens our schools.

Smart energy policies ensure that investments made renewables and clean technologies are Michigan-focused and Michigan-based, which yields support for education through local economic activity and tax revenue, as well as energy efficiency programs that align with our state’s clean energy goals.

Challenge: Today’s jobs, and jobs on the horizon, demand greater education and training than ever before.

The energy sector is one of Michigan’s richest potential sources of high-skilled, well-paying jobs. Local energy providers are helping young Michiganders develop technical skills by creating opportunities through summer and job training programs. They’re also creating highly skilled jobs to support our workforce, today and tomorrow.

Challenge: The streamlined Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy will be tasked with…taking action to protect our state from the harmful effects of climate change.

Michigan’s 2016 energy law put a substantial focus on helping expand access to clean energy for all Michiganders—regardless of their income—while ensuring everyone is treated fairly as we work to address climate change. Michigan is on track to reduce energy-related carbon emissions by 80 percent through a comprehensive approach that includes renewable energy, cleaner energy technologies, and energy efficiency.

Challenge: Let’s keep Michigan dollars in Michigan.

Making sure Michigan’s energy solutions are Michigan-based and developed with long-term affordability, reliability, and sustainability in mind will help our state attract new businesses, retain talent in the state, and keep our money where it belongs—in Michigan—to power a strong economy.

Challenge: [Our failing infrastructure] hurts our businesses’ bottom lines. It jeopardizes our edge in mobility. And limits our economic potential.

The Governor focused on the roads—for good reason—and the most obvious connection between energy and the roads is the way local energy providers and a strong energy sector in Michigan help provide the revenue needed to “fix the damn roads,” as well as other infrastructure across the state. We should be certain we don’t neglect our energy infrastructure in the infrastructure discussion, though. Energy is fundamental to just about every other business and community initiative in Michigan, from agriculture and manufacturing to high-tech, hospitality, emergency services, health care, and more.

We applaud the governor for emphasizing the importance of working together to solve the challenges facing our state. In her words: “Michigan’s problems are not partisan problems.”

AMP has always supported commonsense, bipartisan solutions that reflect this spirit of collaboration and unite voices from across the political spectrum. We believe Michigan comes up with the best solutions when everyone helps create them, not just a few voices speaking louder than the rest.

Our 2016 energy law is an example of the type of cooperation we need more of. It represents hundreds of hours, if not thousands, of work and input by lawmakers, local energy providers, community groups, businesses, faith groups, consumer advocates, and many others to come up with a plan that included everyone’s interests. As lawmakers and regulators continue to implement the law, we look forward to advancing AMP’s values with Governor Whitmer to help build a brighter—and more reliable, affordable, and cleaner—future for all Michiganders.