Clean energy can produce jobs, economic growth, study says

By JASMINE WATTS
Capital News Service
LANSING — Thousands of Michigan jobs in the clean energy industry could be created in coming years, according to a recent report. The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and Clean Energy Trust report that more than 87,000 Michigan residents already work in that industry. And Michigan leads 12 Midwestern states in clean energy transportation jobs, is second in renewable energy jobs and third in overall highest number of clean energy jobs, according to the study. “These findings are a good indication that, contrary to the sky-is-falling rhetoric we often hear from the fossil fuel industry, the transition from dirty fuels to clean sources of energy is an opportunity for economic growth,” said Andy McGlashen, communications director for the Michigan Environmental Council, a statewide coalition of environmental groups. It is critical that state lawmakers put policies in place to continue that growth, he said.

Michigan’s renewable energy movement moves on

By Asha Dawsey
Listen Up, Lansing

The Michigan mitten will be raising its green thumb even higher by the end of 2015, with a goal to rise the usage of renewable energy to 10 percent for utilities within. In 2008 legislation was passed for renewable energy in the state of Michigan in which it has risen the from being 1.8 percent in 2007 to 8.1 percent in 2014 and rising to meet the goal of 10 percent, said Media Relations and Communication Specialist of the MPSC Judy Palnau. According to a report from Michigan Public Service Commission, Public Act 295 requires the state’s investor-owned utilities, alternative retail suppliers, electric cooperatives and municipal electric utilities to generate 10 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2015. “It adds to the state’s fuel diversity,” said Palnau. Michigan’s dependence on coal generation has been declining as a result of flat power demand and the growth of cleaner, more affordable alternatives like natural gas and wind, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists report.

Rate hikes underway for municipal electric utilities

By SAODAT ASANOVA-TAYLOR
Capital News Service
LANSING – Municipal electric utilities plan gradual rate increases this winter, and some have already implemented them to comply with federal environmental regulations and to keep local jobs. For example, Marquette Board of Light and Power will increase electric rates by 3.5 percent for customers by 2014. It will be the second rate hike for the company in 25 years. The company serves 16,300 customers in the city of Marquette and nine townships in Marquette County. It is one of 41 municipally owned utilities in the state, including ones in Sturgis, Petoskey, Traverse City, Negaunee, Holland, Zeeland, Detroit, Lansing and Harbor Springs.

Debate reopens on renewable energy standards

By PATRICK HOWARD
Capital News Service
LANSING – Proponents of the state’s alternative energy optimization standards are at odds with a suggestion to eliminate current standards. The proposal by Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, would repeal standards that require 10 percent of energy generated by utility companies to be renewable by 2015. The standards, adopted in 2008, include guidelines to utility companies. According to Jim Weeks, executive director of the Michigan Municipal Electric Association in Lansing, Franz’ bill could address those guidelines which concern small companies. “There is a lot of administrative costs and burden placed on the staff of smaller utilities,” Weeks said.