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Gov. Snyder creates energy agency

The Detroit News

Gov. Rick Snyder created Wednesday a new Michigan Agency for Energy that is responsible for coordinating efforts to ensure the state has affordable, reliable access to electricity.

The agency will be located in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and headed by Valerie Brader, now a deputy legal counsel and senior policy adviser specializing in energy issues, according to the Republican governor’s office. Brader, the new agency’s executive director, will continue to be the state’s main adviser on energy policy.

“The new agency will oversee how our state responds to the energy challenges that we know are before us, and will work across state government to help Michigan reduce energy waste and adapt to changing needs and technology,” Snyder said in a statement.

Brader, 38, has been with the Snyder administration since 2011 after being the chief energy policy officer at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-state agency. She also was an adviser to former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt on environmental and natural resource issues after practicing environmental and corporate law.

“Valerie has tremendous expertise in energy issues, but I’ve also appreciated her legal skills,” Snyder said.

The executive order that the governor signed Wednesday will put the changes into place in 60 days or mid-May.

The agency will absorb energy functions from other state departments. For example, the air policy director from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will now report to the new energy agency.

But the Michigan Public Service Commission, which approves utility rate hikes and weighs in on energy policy matters, will continue to operate independently from the new agency.