Clean energy should be state’s future


With so much uncertainty, turmoil and dysfunction at the federal level, it is up to states to take bold action and chart their own futures. That’s why we, along with Representatives Donna Lasinski and Jon Hoadley, introduced bold clean energy legislation that would reduce electricity costs, create jobs and build upon Michigan’s landmark energy laws that took effect in April. Our state should be a leader in clean, renewable energy, which is why we are proposing a plan that would boost Michigan to 50 percent renewable energy by 2035 and double investments in energy efficiency.

Michigan has the highest electricity costs in the Midwest. Our legislation would help rein in these rising electricity costs by investing in affordable renewable power sources and energy efficiency.

Prices for clean energy are at all-time lows. According to the most recent Levelized Cost of Energy report by Lazard Investment Bank, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar are now cheaper than coal and cost-competitive with natural gas. Expanding our use of renewable sources would protect Michigan families and small businesses against the price volatility of fossil fuels, ensuring we have affordable energy for years to come.

The package would also help reduce electricity costs by increasing the energy efficiency standard from 1 percent to 2 percent starting in 2022. This may not sound like much, but it would mean massive savings for Michigan ratepayers. Every $1 invested in energy efficiency returns $4 in savings. In fact, the Michigan Public Service Commission found the current energy efficiency standard has saved ratepayers and businesses $5 billion since 2009. The cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use.

Our legislation would also create jobs. Increasing our investments in energy efficiency would make Michigan a leader in energy-efficient appliances and technologies that save us money in our homes and businesses, drive our economy and create jobs. Michigan’s clean energy sector now supports more than 87,000 jobs, and our legislation would further expand this growing sector of our economy.

An increasing number of corporations and businesses, like General Motors, Google and Amazon are committing to power their operations with 100 percent renewable energy. Generating 50 percent of our energy from renewable sources would send a clear signal to businesses and investors that Michigan is open for business.

Burning fossil fuels like coal and oil spews dangerous pollutants into our air and water, which exacerbates the effects of asthma and other respiratory diseases, threatening the health of Michigan families, children and seniors. Expanding clean energy and energy efficiency helps protect public health by reducing dangerous pollution in our air, land and Great Lakes. All the coal we burn is imported from other states, and we’ve relied on burning dirty, imported coal for far too long. Our legislation would change that.

Clean, renewable energy is the future of how we get our electricity. Our legislation would build upon the landmark energy laws enacted in April, and chart a path toward lower electricity costs, more jobs, and cleaner air and water.

Sens. Rebekah Warren and Hoon-Yung Hopgood represent Michigan’s 18th and 6th districts, respectively.