What’s Up in Lansing: Senate Hearing Puts Spotlight on Michigan First Energy Plan

Legislators in Lansing held another in a series of hearings yesterday on new energy legislation from Senators Nofs and Proos.  This time, members of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee heard from Governor Rick Snyder’s top energy advisor, who echoed the need for a state energy plan that puts Michigan in charge of its energy future.

In urging members to act now, Valerie Brader, Executive Director of the newly created Michigan Agency for Energy, highlighted many of the same policies and principles that AMP supports, calling on lawmakers to pass “well-grounded legislation on Michigan’s energy future.”

Putting Michigan First

Brader spoke directly about the need for Michigan to take control of its own energy future, saying, “Michigan can position itself to continue such success if it makes its own decisions in term of energy policy, even in the face of the federal Clean Power Plan, and be ready to adapt to potential changes.

“If we do not step in, the federal government will do it,” she said. “We have a very narrow window … and if we do not seize it, we will be sorry.” 

As a reminder, the recent announcement of the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon emission means each state will need to submit a plan that meets the new mandates.  If that does not happen, states will be subject to the terms of a federal plan.

While Michigan has already made great progress toward transitioning to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future, there is still more work to be done. Passing comprehensive energy legislation that enables Michigan to more effectively plan for its energy future is the next step.

Addressing our Capacity Shortfall

Michigan will retire nine power plants next year, due to a combination of old age and existing federal regulations, setting the stage of a potential electric capacity shortfall in the coming years.  However, the situation is even more urgent as Brader told the committee that under previous EPA regulations 25 power plants across Michigan will retire generation by 2020. 

This underscores the need for Lansing to act quickly to pass a comprehensive energy policy that will allow Michigan to address our growing capacity crisis head-on, and protect energy affordability and reliability.

Implementing a Smart Planning Process

To avoid the looming capacity shortfall, Michigan must adopt a smart and flexible energy planning process.  Brader suggests, and AMP supports, using Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs), which would give the state greater flexibility in planning for Michigan’s future energy needs. 

As proposed in the Nofs-Proos legislation, Michigan’s IRPs would require both local energy providers and out-of-state energy companies to guarantee five years of capacity, while also giving them the ability to work to comply with federal regulations, adapt to changing technologies, meet changing demand, and respond to other factors that will influence our electric system, in ways that make the most sense for Michigan and benefit everyone involved.  As Brader noted, “Let’s make sure we have the ability to change our mind without costing ourselves a lot of money for that. We think this will increase affordability…this will increase reliability, because we’ll have the ability to look long, way into the future.”

This type of planning will ensure all Michigan consumers are treated fairly, and avoid another crisis like the one the Upper Peninsula faced earlier this year at the Presque Isle Power Plant.

Irene Dimitry from DTE Energy, also present at yesterday’s hearing, agreed with Brader, saying the local energy provider is “very aligned in our goals and where we want to go, and the idea of having a very open, transparent, disciplined, integrated resource planning process that looks at all the different options and considers all the different resources.”

The Time Is Now

With legislation introduced the Senate by Nofs and Proos and in the House by Representative Nesbitt, the time act is now.  Both of these plans place Michigan on a path to securing it energy future.

Encourage your legislators to support S.B. 438 to ensure Michigan can take charge of its energy future.