Column: State leads on clean energy

Lisa Wozniak

There’s no doubt Michigan has made great strides this year on clean energy policies that will reduce dangerous pollution, rein in rising electricity costs and create jobs. Recently, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy made new, major announcements to expand clean, renewable energy. DTE announced plans to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, increasing their use of renewable energy to 40 percent of their energy mix by 2040. Consumers Energy announced it will create a program that allows large businesses to obtain 100 percent of their energy needs from renewable sources.

This is great progress, but Michigan is just getting started. Here’s why Michigan will see even more progress on clean energy soon.

Prices for clean, renewable energy are lower than ever. In fact, according to a recent report by Lazard Investment Bank, clean energy, like wind and solar, is now cheaper than coal and cost-competitive with natural gas. As technology continues to improve, these prices will only get lower, which means more savings for Michigan ratepayers.

Large businesses are tapping into the power of renewable energy. More major corporations are demanding renewable energy to power their operations, which helps reduce their carbon footprint and meet sustainability goals. For instance, last year, General Motors announced plans to power their business operations across the globe with 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. GM is among a growing number of businesses, like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, that are demanding clean energy.

Clean energy is creating more jobs than ever. According to the most recent Clean Jobs Midwest Report, Michigan is home to more than 87,000 clean energy jobs. Those are jobs producing renewable energy equipment, like solar panels and wind turbines, as well as jobs in advanced transportation and energy efficiency. As utility companies, like DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, continue using more renewable energy, this sector of our economy will continue to grow.

After a long history of burning coal and importing oil for our energy needs, it is refreshing to see our state’s two largest utilities dismantle the false dichotomy that we must choose between the economy and the environment. It takes a combined effort to protect our air, land and water, and Michigan is stepping out to lead in this arena.

Lisa Wozniak is executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.