Those of you who are Jon Stewart watchers probably remember his recap of the past presidents’ commitments to develop an energy policy in the US. But seriously, if not now, when?
We are seeing renewed discussion in the Senate on ethanol subsidies, the debate on offshore oil drilling is a constant background drum, the fraking needed to get us to this “panacea” of natural gas is being reviewed in every state with reserves, a new White House initiative was announced last week on smart grid improvements and renewable integration, water is a critical component to this conversation, and 71% of Americans think global warming should be at least a medium priority for the President and Congress (Yale study).
In Michigan, our utilities are deploying renewables and implementing the energy efficiency standard. There are smart grid pilots underway here. Michigan leads on electric vehicle integration and the policy needed to lay the foundation for the EVs being built by the automotive manufacturers. The Ludington Pump Storage expansion is underway which will continue to make our energy markets unique. And we will likely see a new Public Service Commissioner appointed this summer.
It’s pretty clear that we will have a diverse energy portfolio well into the future which means planning is critical. It’s time to work on pulling all the pieces together because greater coordination can bring efficiency and lower energy use.
As we wait on initiatives from the feds, we can grab an opportunity for Michigan right now to get out in front. Let’s use the clean energy opportunity – including large investments – to put Michigan’s advanced manufacturing skills to use and build a diverse energy future for our state that includes exporting solar components, wind turbines, energy efficiency products and more so that money stays in Michigan from the jobs. Let’s deploy more renewables so that money stays in Michigan for energy creation. Michigan spends $36 B a year on energy and we export $24 B of those dollars. It’s time to have a Michigan Energy Policy that will keep more of that money here.