New state bonds proposed to boost energy efficiency

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Capital News Service
LANSING — Some lawmakers want the state to be able to issue bonds to help homeowners pay for energy efficiency measures such as renewable energy systems, storm windows, automated energy controls and new heating and air conditioning units.
Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, said, “We are working on a bill which would provide homeowners in Michigan for ‘clean energy’ bonds. It would change the way that heating system operates.”
Low-interest loans would help homeowners improve energy efficiency and reduce use. They would also receive instructions about more energy-efficient appliances.
“The state doesn’t need to build so many facilities if the state energy needs are reduced. Hopefully it’ll help the economy,” Meadows said.
Clean energy promotes the state economy in several ways, with creating jobs as the most direct one, said Hugh McDiarmid, communications director of the Michigan Environmental Council.
“It creates new employment opportunities in the manufacturing industry and stimulates the economy by not polluting the environment,” he said.
“We built the state’s first wind farm. Wind is used as an important power source in the Great Lakes area,” he said.
Cities, counties and villages would have the option to participate in the proposed bond program.
“The interest is in the power of local units of government so it may vary from county to county,” said Rep. Robert Jones, D-Kalamazoo.
However, not everyone sees the need for such bonds.
Samantha Harkins, legislative associate for Michigan Municipal League, said Ann Arbor is pushing the bill.
“I don’t want to say it’s a controversial one, but it’s offering options that other counties don’t need to have,” Harkins said.
The league represents cities and villages.
She said Ann Arbor is on the cutting edge of energy efficiency, and the bill would be helpful for the city’s energy office.
The lead sponsor is Rep. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor. Co-sponsors include Reps. Dan Scripps, D-Leland; Sarah Roberts D-St. Clair Shores and Lesia Liss, D-Warren.
The Great Lakes and Environment Committee has passed the bill which is pending in the full House.
© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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