5 Lakes Energy co-founder/partner and Michigan EIBC president Liesl Eichler Clark took part in a panel discussion on the advanced energy economy on Tuesday October 24th. The discussion encompassed the expansion of renewable energy and how it could benefit taxpayers and reduce electricity costs. In addition to Clark, the panel included Scott Hawken, director of project development at Apex Clean Energy, and Teresa Hatcher, director of renewable energy, at CMS Energy.
The panelists all emphasized energy efficiency as the first step on the path towards Michigan’s energy future. Clark highlighted the job opportunities investment in advanced energy creates, explaining that clean energy jobs in Michigan increased by 5.3 percent last year, which is three times higher than the average job growth in other sectors. By using wind and solar energy, communities can provide enough energy for all residents and save money on operation costs, Clark said. It costs more money to operate a coal power plant than it does to maintain solar panels and wind turbines. Hawken addressed wind and solar projects in Michigan and how technology is improving and driving down costs. Tying together the investor owned utility vision for the future, Hatcher laid out the Consumers Energy plan for more modular generation being built closer to load.
All three panel members encouraged audience members to talk to their legislators about legislation that encourages renewable energy and policies that will help increase renewable development in Michigan.
The panel discussion was moderated by Tom Rohrer, director of Central Michigan University’s Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Systems. The event was sponsored by the CMU School of Public Service and Global Citizenship, the Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Systems and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences.