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What’s Up in Lansing: Natural Gas

Nationwide, natural gas is experiencing a resurgence as new extraction techniques make tapping into this energy resource more effective than ever. Here in Michigan, lawmakers are working to expand our natural gas infrastructure to help address concerns over capacity and sustainability.

Governor Snyder’s Plan

Natural gas plays a prominent role in Governor Rick Snyder’s energy plan, which recognizes that we have to make sure our state has the fuel source diversity to adapt to changing circumstances:

“We will have more natural gas plants for baseload generation as well as for intermittent generation when power from renewables may not be available…”

In Governor Snyder’s view, natural gas will increasingly be the resource of choice for baseload generation, but as a state we’ll continue to use a diverse mix of resources—and increase efficiency—so that we create the capacity we need for reliable, affordable energy for all Michiganders.

Committee Chair Plans—Nesbitt and Nofs

The chairmen of the major state legislature energy committees—Representative Aric Nesbitt and Senator Mike Nofs—also have energy plans.  Like Governor Snyder, Nesbitt and Nofs are focused on Michigan developing a nimble approach to energy resource management, which includes natural gas.

More specifically, Senator Nofs’ plan puts forward a new “clean energy standard” that incentivizes Michigan utilities to cut emissions through the use of natural gas (as well as renewables and nuclear power).

House Committee Debates Natural Gas Infrastructure

While Representative Nesbitt’s bill addresses resource management to foster natural gas development, the committee he leads recently discussed two other bills focused on natural gas.

Lawmakers and witnesses—including representatives from Michigan’s two largest energy providers, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy—discussed a number of related issues, with a focus on how to pay for building out our state’s natural gas infrastructure.

Those present at the hearing discussed how the cost-sharing that is part of the legislation would impact ratepayers, as well as how low natural gas prices could help keep energy prices stable.

The Bottom Line

Natural gas is a big deal for Michigan energy. Thanks to new technologies, natural gas is both plentiful and cheap for the time being. It is also a resource we already have the technology to use for efficient electricity generation, on a mass scale. Continuing to develop our natural gas infrastructure will be key to ensuring Michigan can maintain reliability, affordability, and sustainability as older coal-fired plants are retired and our state’s fuel mix continues to evolve.

What do you think about the importance of natural gas for Michigan’s energy future? Let us know!