A new state report has proponents of renewable energy making the rounds touting the possibilities in Michigan.
The report on renewable energy followed seven public forums around the state.
Three other reports are due out in October as the state inches toward adopting some sort of updated energy policy.
Among those applauding and advocating for development of renewable energy resources, typically wind and solar, is retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Lee Gunn, who spent much of his childhood in Pontiac.
Gunn is president of the Center for Naval Analysis’ Institute for Public Research in Virginia. He’s also president of the American Security Project, a bipartisan Washington think-tank, and part of an advisory board of retired military officers.
Gunn joined CNA in 2001 after a 35-year naval career.
Reliance on fossil fuels like coal isn’t feasible in the long run, Gunn said Wednesday in an interview.
“We, in the world, are going to exhaust our supply of the sorts of energy we use today,” Gunn said. “What’s left will be even more difficult to obtain than it is today. If we don’t use this opportunity to expand our science and technology in support of future ways of obtaining and using energy, someone else will.”
Currently, Michigan lags behind Germany and China in renewable energy development, he said, a situation that can change, especially in Michigan.
“We’ll lead or follow or, as they say, lead, follow or get the heck out of the way,” Gunn said. “We don’t want to get out of the way and we don’t want to follow. It seems to me that the brain power, the human energy, the intellectual firepower here in Michigan in particular ought to increasingly be harnessed to be available for the development of this kind of new energy economy.”
Gunn says he’s encouraged that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is reviewing the state’s renewable energy policies.
“Michigan is a place that’s unusually well-suited in the country for these things to happen in terms of excess capacity, in terms of the brain power and the fact that you produce more operating engineers here every year than any other state in the union,” he said. “All these factors come together. Michigan’s own needs and the fact that so much energy is derived from coal, which eventually could be obtained another way, ought to also be an economic incentive for this kind of development.”
Part of the debate in Michigan is whether to adopt a higher renewable energy standard, currently 10 percent by the year 2015.
Some groups have advocated a 25 percent standard of renewable energy production by 2025.
The newest report indicates that a standard of 30 percent or higher is possible with the resources within the state.
Gunn says he supports a national renewable fuel standard, but he stops short of saying what that standard should be.
“I think that there ought to be a well-defined and broadly agreed upon renewable fuel standard for the country,” Gunn said. “I’m certainly not ready to represent a majority view of the Military Advisory Board on how we should reach that or what degree of specificity it should have or what the number ought to look like.”
Printed in The Oakland Press