Opinion: Energy plan will make Mich.’s future brighter

State Rep. Bill LaVoy

With Michigan’ energy policy expiring this year, we have a real opportunity to reduce our overreliance on coal and diversify power generation. We’re working hard in Lansing to set our state on a path toward a cleaner energy future.

Since its clean energy policy was enacted in 2008, Michigan has seen nearly $3 billion in investment in renewable energy. Workers are manufacturing, installing and maintaining wind turbines and solar panels across the state. Advances in technology have down the costs of wind and solar power, and are now significantly cheaper than coal.

The state’s energy efficiency programs have also been highly successful, reducing energy waste and saving Michigan families and businesses $1.2 billion over the next three years. Utilities are exceeding their energy efficiency goals, saving money and creating good-paying jobs for Michiganians — whether it’s manufacturing energy efficient windows and appliances or installing Michigan-made insulation.

We can build on this success by increasing our use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

This spring we were proud to announce the Powering Michigan’s Future legislation, which will set us on a path toward a cleaner energy future. This common-sense legislation will rein in rising energy costs, grow Michigan’s economy and reduce dangerous pollution. Michigan can’t afford further delay.

The Powering Michigan’s Future legislative package will build on the success of Michigan’s renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors — creating jobs, saving families and businesses money and protecting Michigan’s air, land and Great Lakes. This legislation would:

■ Increase Michigan’s renewable energy standard to 20 percent by 2022

■ Double the energy efficiency standard

■ Eliminate the renewable energy surcharge

■ Control energy costs and ensure reliability and affordability

Energy policy passed this year will have long-lasting impacts when it comes to future energy costs and protection of our lakes, rivers and streams. Some proposals in Lansing would turn the clock back on the important progress we’ve made. New federal goals for cleaner power have been finalized, and it is in Michigan’s interest to look toward a clean energy future.

Done right, clean energy policy provides an opportunity for us to build upon our manufacturing strength, retaining and create good-paying jobs for Michigan workers. It will ensure affordability and reliability and protect our Great Lakes. That’s why we support increasing our renewable energy and energy efficiency standards through the Powering Michigan’s Future legislation. We urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to support these bills and ensure our Great Lakes are protected for future generations.

State Rep. Bill LaVoy, D-Monroe, is minority vice chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee.

State Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor, is minority vice chairman of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee.