Letter: Clean energy is a better option for Michigan

The Detroit News

A recent guest column by Richard Studley of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce ("Power plant will strengthen Michigan’s economy," June 8) touts DTE Energy’s plan to build a billion-dollar gas plant in St. Clair County while ignoring the fact that investing in clean energy and energy efficiency would create more jobs and result in lower electricity costs for Michigan families and businesses.

DTE Energy solar panel array seen along the north side of M-14 in Ann Arbor.

Technology for clean, renewable energy has advanced tremendously over the past decade. That means clean energy, like wind and solar, is more efficient, reliable and affordable than ever before. Unfortunately, the Public Service Commission approved a proposal by DTE Energy to build a billion-dollar gas plant instead of seriously considering clean energy alternatives that would create more jobs and reduce electricity costs.

Clean energy is a job creator. A report by BW Research Partnership released in March found that investing in a portfolio of wind, solar and energy efficiency instead of the gas plant would create 10 times more temporary construction jobs and four times more permanent jobs. In fact, according to the report, DTE’s natural gas plant will only create 35 jobs for ongoing operations and maintenance.

Investing in clean energy brings businesses to Michigan. There is growing demand for renewable energy among large businesses as more companies set commitments to power all operations with clean, renewable energy. If Michigan doesn’t have the clean energy to meet this demand, companies will locate their businesses in other states, taking jobs and economic benefits with them.

Building a giant natural gas plant is a risky investment. Clean energy is not subject to the price volatility of fossil fuels like natural gas, which means businesses can enter into long-term agreements with fixed costs for the energy they need, giving them certainty to expand and grow in Michigan. 

We do not know what the price of natural gas will be decades down the road, and if those prices spike, which they likely will, it will be Michigan families and businesses that are forced to pay higher electricity costs. Clean renewable energy is a safer investment for Michigan, and we should encourage further investment in renewables rather than touting big, expensive natural gas plants. 

Daniel Edelson, business development manager