Conservatives Launch Renewable Energy Group in Michigan! Is this a typo? No, but I read the article over several times to make sure.
According to Michigan Live, several Republicans have formed the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum to reduce coal use in the state while increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy.
On their facebook page, the group says, "the state must transition to clean, renewable energy sources" and that they plan to facilitate a dialogue that depoliticizes the issue." Great news!
"For too long, we have allowed the energy discourse to be dominated by the left," Larry Ward, executive director of the Forum and former political director of the Michigan Republican Party, told Michigan Live. "Conservatives have sat on the sidelines for far too long."
Unfortunately, Conservatives haven’t just sat on the sidelines, they have been actively blocking programs that would reduce coal use and increase renewable energy. On the national level, a slew of conservative groups are leading the helm from ALEC to Americans for Prosperity. In Michigan, a voter referendum that would have raised the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) failed because of the usual reasons: a pile of money poured into the state spreading misinformation.
The Forum wants Michigan to diversify its energy supply to include wind, solar, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, natural gas, nuclear and some coal.
"This is exactly what the Republican Party needs to be relevant for the next generation of voters," Michael Stroud, co-chair of the Michigan Federation of College Republicans, told Michigan Live.
Governor Snyder is holding a roundtable discussion today on Michigan’s energy policies. After the referendum failed, he called for a one-year study on the state’s energy future. Several public forums were held across the state and four reports were submitted to the governor. One of them shows that it’s feasible for Michigan to reach 30% renewable energy by 2035.
The referendum would have raised the state’s RPS from the current target of 10% renewable energy by 2015 – which utilities are on track to meet at much lower cost than expected – to 25% by 2025.
Michigan is one of a bunch of states that’s been in the news because wind power costs less than that from a new coal plant. Recent contracts for wind energy have been $43 per megawatt, significanlty lower than the $108-$133 range for coal and nuclear. Because of that, the utility, Consumers Energy, has cut the monthly surcharge that pays the cost of meeting Michigan’s RPS and now wants to eliminate it. Over the past two years, they reduced the surcharge from $3 a month to just 43 cents.
A Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council study shows the state’s advanced energy manufacturing sector – solar, wind, energy storage, and biomass – generates $5 billion a year in economic activity and supports 20,500 jobs a year.