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Governor Rick Snyder at Mackinac. Daily Detroit file photo.
Governor Rick Snyder at Mackinac. Daily Detroit file photo.

Michigan must set attainable energy goals and look towards renewable energy sources to keep energy prices down and avoid widespread outages, said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in a special message on energy today.

The state’s new goal is to get 30 to 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources and reduced waste by 2025.

“Decisions we make in the coming years will keep energy more affordable and available through a variety of sources while we continue being good stewards of our lakes, air and land. We also must ensure that Michigan — not Washington, D.C. — will determine how we move forward, transitioning from the sources of yesterday to newer, cleaner methods,” Snyder said.

Michigan’s previous efforts to reduce energy waste across the state have created $2.5 billion in saving for Michiganders, according to the Governor’s office. Snyder believes that we can build on that progress to double that number.

On average, Michiganders use 38 percent more energy than the rest of the United States. Meanwhile, energy bills in the state are about six percent higher than the national average.

Ten coal power plants are expected to retire in the coming years, creating an energy capacity problem. Despite the plants’ retirement, the demand for energy in Michigan continues to grow.

This creates an energy challenge statewide, and Snyder has decided on renewable energy to help alleviate the problem of energy shortage. He presented a plan that he says will see Michigan through at least the next decade of energy decision-making.

According to Snyder, his plan, which is outlined below, focuses on four pillars. Let’s step through them quickly.

Adaptability – Michigan is one of the 10 states most-dependent on coal. The state must adapt to the loss of coal power plants and begin using cleaner energy.

Affordability – Reducing the amount of wasted energy statewide will save money for businesses and families in addition to lessening the demand on Michigan’s power grid. Snyder has encouraged a discussion with the Legislature about statewide programs to help people replace older, inefficient items like furnaces.

Reliability – The reliability of power is an important topic that Snyder plans to address through deployment of “smart” meters. These new meters will help utilities locate outages and restore power more quickly.

Environmental protection – Michigan should work towards reducing pollution, mercury emissions, and airborne particles.

“We must work to ensure our energy portfolio should continue to get better over time in controlling pollutants. When you replace a coal plant with a natural gas plant, you have essentially eliminated mercury as a pollutant from that plant. Chemicals that lead to acid rain — SOx and NOx — also drop enormously when you replace coal with natural gas,” said Snyder’s office in an attached ‘action plan.’ “Particulate matter, which is linked to heart and lung diseases — like asthma — is reduced through natural gas use instead of coal, but large reductions come when you rely more on our cleanest sources, like waste elimination and wind or solar power.”

Snyder believes that the energy agenda for Michigan must be aggressive and attainable in order to change the state’s future, and he is preparing for discussions and debate with the Legislature. A law from 2008 required that all of the utilities in the state use 10 percent renewable energy by 2015. That goal was met, but the old regulations will expire this December.

The reason this is mentioned now by the Governor is that without new legislation, these projections for 2025 may not become a reality, and the 2008 regulations will sunset.