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energy policy

power lines
Stefan Andrej Shambora / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

The Michigan Public Service Commission is considering a rule that opponents say would dramatically raise electricity rates for schools, universities and businesses, as well as potentially eliminate competition for Michigan’s two major utilities.

The rule would require electricity providers that compete with DTE Energy and Consumers Energy to supply their customers with energy generated within Michigan — instead of from a larger market.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio file photo

The lame duck session wrapped up in Lansing this week. In this Week in Review, Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about bills that made it through the Legislature and one that didn't. They also discuss an important anniversary in the Flint water crisis.

An anniversary in Flint

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The lame duck session for the Michigan Legislature has come to a close. Some people have called the end-of-year session "strange," but you can't say it was boring. There were a number of bills pushed through before lawmakers headed home for the holidays.

Now that the dust has settled, Susan Demas publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Stateside for their weekly political roundup to break it all down.

A coal-fired power plant
Holland BPW

A major rewrite of Michigan’s energy policy is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder.

The main focus of the bills is helping utilities replace coal-fired plants that are shutting down. That’s expensive, and utilities demanded guarantees they won’t lose too many customers to alternative energy suppliers.

The compromise still preserves much of the state’s program that allows a percentage of customers to choose their energy company.

State Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, chairs the House Energy Committee. He says finding common ground wasn’t easy.

Liesl Clark said Michigan is taking more older, coal-fired power plants offline because they are uneconomical to run.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Energy policy will change under the new administration and state policies in places such as Michigan are more likely to look like Trump policies than Obama polices. That's the opinion of Mark A. Barteau, the director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute.

Trump has made clear statements that he believes climate change is a hoax and he plans to dismantle the Obama administration’s energy policies. This will affect gas and oil production. Trump has also said he’ll bring “clean coal” production back, but it's not certain there is market demand.

Wind turbine near Mt. Pleasant, MI.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Senate is back on break until after the election, but when they get back they have made a major piece of legislation a top priority. An overhaul to Michigan’s energy policy will be one of the first items up for vote when the Senate meets again.  

Two energy bills have been waiting for a vote since July of 2015. They finally got out of committee in May. Now, the press secretary for the Senate Republican majority, Amber McCann, says the Senate is finally ready to vote.

Almost.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder says lawmakers could first tackle the Detroit school district's debt and possibly leave until later his call for a new commission to close poor-performing traditional and charter schools.

  The Republican governor told The Associated Press in a year-end interview that pending legislation to split the district in two to retire debt and to empower a chief education officer to hold schools accountable could go on "parallel or somewhat separate tracks." Snyder says the more urgent issue in terms of timing is the state-run district's finances.

Representatives Gary Glenn and Jeff Irwin
Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

A bipartisan package of bills is being considered by the Michigan Legislature that would subsidize homes, businesses, and churches that generate their own electricity using solar power or other methods of home-grown generation.

The big power-generating companies aren’t happy. They say other ratepayers would end up paying for part of the cost of that renewable energy production.

Representatives Gary Glenn, R-Midland, and Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, are two of the co-sponsors of the package along with Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, and Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports companies spent $21 million in the first seven months of the year.  That’s about 1.3% more than during the same period in 2014.

Multi-client lobbying firms dominated the filings, which presents a problem.

Michigan lawmakers and the Snyder administration are writing up new energy policy. It’s a big deal that almost no one is paying attention to. And that means the issue will be driven by special interests.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

 

Governor Rick Snyder says one of his long-term ambitions is to improve Michigan’s access to electricity by extending the power grid to connect the upper and lower peninsulas.

The Upper Peninsula has just one major power plant, which is operating under a special deal struck with the state. The rest of the UP’s electricity has to come through Wisconsin.

Gov. Snyder presented his goals for energy policy in Michigan Friday at an electrician training facility in Warren.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Gov. Snyder's goal of boosting renewable energy to between 30% and 40% in the next decade includes increased energy efficiency to get to those numbers. The governor says increased efficiency should play a central role in Michigan’s energy future.

Gov. Rick Snyder formed a workgroup that made 69 recommendations on how the state of Michigan should manage and improve its mental health care system. The question is, how many of those recommendations will be turned into actual policies?
gophouse.com

Governor Snyder is joining the debate as the Legislature embarks on the first major re-write of Michigan’s energy policy in many years. He will deliver a speech on the topic in metro Detroit.

“Hopefully, we can establish a strong energy policy for Michigan that can last the next decade or so,” he says. The governor says he has some things he’d like lawmakers to keep in mind.

Solar panels
Ford Motor Company / Flickr

State law forces power companies to get 10% of their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by next year. It’s a target they’re expected to meet.

The state issued a report last year that shows companies could get as much at 30% by 2035. But there’s no law that requires that, yet. It’s something a workgroup will consider as it works this summer to update Michigan’s energy policy.

State Senator Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) will help lead the group.

Office of Governor Rick Snyder / Wikimedia Commons

Governor Rick Snyder covered topics ranging from urban farming to "fracking" in his special address on energy and the environment today.

He said the state should do more to deal with blight and encourage urban farming in cities with lots of vacant land.

The governor said too much abandoned property in Flint, Detroit, and other cities is going to waste when it could be put to a new use.

“And all I’ve seen in my two years as governor is a lot of discussion about right-to-farm, and urban farming,” said Snyder.

Chris Broadbent

Protesters rallied at an energy forum hosted by the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce today. They’re calling on the Kalamazoo Chamber to cut its ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.