Clean energy achievable, affordable

By Andy Balaskovitz

Michigan Public Service Commission draft report shows cleaner energy can be achieved at affordable price

Monday, Oct. 14 — Supporters of statewide renewable energy expansion are pointing to a draft report from the Michigan Public Service Commission that says the state can achieve a higher renewable portfolio standard without drastically increasing costs.

The 90-page report, released last month on behalf of the Public Service Commission and the Michigan Energy Office, is in response to Gov. Rick Snyder’s address on energy and the environment earlier this year.

The state is on track to meet 2008’s renewable energy portfolio standard of 10 percent of 2015, the report says, which has done so mostly through wind power. A 30 percent renewable portfolio could be achieved by 2035, according to the report.

Clean energy advocates said today that the report’s figures are conservative and even more could be done. Douglas Jester, a consultant with 5 Lakes Energy, said a 1.5 percent annual increase in renewable growth could result in 40 percent by 2035.

“This looks to be feasible and practical and really shouldn’t be viewed as an impossible task to rebuild the energy future for Michigan,” said Jester said today during a teleconference.

Advocates highlighted the draft report today before public comment on it closes Wednesday. Public comments can be made here. A final report will be released early next month.

Jester also said the drop in prices for renewable energy has essentially made them competitive with fossil fuels, such as coal, which is backed up in the report.

As more renewable resources have been added, the prices of these resources has decreased, particularly for wind energy, and are now competitive with some new sources of non-renewable energy,” the report says.

The report appears to rebuke arguments made by opponents to last year’s Proposal 3, a statewide ballot proposal that would have amended the state Constitution with a 25 percent renewable energy standard by 2025. Opponents of the “25 x 25” plan said the standard would be too costly and the energy unreliable. Michigan voters turned down the proposal in November, 64 percent to 36 percent.

“We can say this definitely rebukes that argument,” Anne Woiwode, director of the Michigan chapter of Sierra Club, said today. “This information just finally puts into one place the clear arguments that have been made for quite a while. Renewable energy is an excellent investment for the state of Michigan that is going to pay off in the short run and long run in many ways.”