Viewpoint: Renewable energy, conservation will boost Michigan's competitiveness in the marketplace
The following is a letter to the editor that was sent to the Kalamazoo Gazette.
BY ART TOY
Governor Rick Snyder’s energy forums, including one held in Kalamazoo, are a real opportunity for residents to weigh in on our state’s energy future. As a local business owner, I’ve seen firsthand how investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency creates jobs, sparks investment in local communities and helps rein in rising energy costs.
That is why we must diversify our energy mix and include more choices like renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The Michigan Public Service Commission has found that renewable energy costs less than new coal generation. The commission has also reported that for every $1 invested in energy efficiency, consumers avoid $3.55 in energy costs.
Michigan has some of the highest energy costs in the Midwest and among the lowest use of renewable energy. High energy costs hurt Michigan’s economic competitiveness and drive business from our state.
Nearly 30 other states have stronger renewable energy and energy efficiency standards than Michigan, including other Midwest states like Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.
Part of the reason why Michigan has such high energy costs is that we get nearly 60 percent of our electricity from imported coal. It’s outrageous that Michigan spends $1.7 billion annually to import this coal, which goes to support jobs in other states.
By increasing our use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, we can help Michigan businesses, including our manufacturers and Michigan workers. Michigan’s clean energy sector already supports 20,500 jobs and yields $5 billion in economic activity per year and these numbers can grow if we have a long-term energy plan in place.
The MPSC has determined Michigan’s major utilities are on track to meet the 10 percent renewable energy standard by 2015 and are actually ahead of where the state projected it would be in terms of savings from energy efficiency.
We have witnessed the benefits of renewable energy in Michigan already, specifically in Mason County where Consumers Energy provided nearly $10 million in investment. DTE’s wind parks in Gratiot, Huron and Sanilac counties will also contribute roughly $150 million to Michigan’s economy, which is great news for Michigan businesses.
Now is the time to capitalize on the opportunities renewable energy and energy efficiency can provide to our great state.
We can’t afford to fall behind and allow businesses to continue facing skyrocketing energy costs. The benefits are obvious and the choice is clear, renewable energy and energy efficiency are Michigan’s future.
Art Toy is president of Four Elements Energy in Lawrence