Renewable Energy Helps Michigan

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

In 2008, Michigan passed energy legislation that required big utility companies to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from clean, renewable energy.

Fast-forward to 2018: Michigan gets more than 10 percent of our electricity from clean, renewable sources, like wind and solar, and new energy laws that took effect last year put us on track to increase this number to 15 percent by 2021.

In “State needs sound energy regulations,” Jan. 11, Jason Hayes of the Mackinac Center argues lawmakers should dismantle the renewable energy standard without giving a reason. He rightly notes clean energy is market competitive due to advances in technology and declining costs. He is also right that clean energy is here to stay.

We need a renewable energy standard because Michigan’s utilities are regulated monopolies. They might take modest steps toward building more clean energy on their own, but without a requirement, there are incentives which might encourage them to stick with fossil fuels.

Ratepayers need strong policies like the renewable energy standard to ensure big utility companies invest in the lowest cost energy for their customers — and the lowest-cost energy also happens to be the cleanest. A recent analysis by Lazard Investment Bank found that clean, renewable energy, like wind and solar, is now cheaper than coal and even natural gas. That’s without any subsidies.

Despite declining costs for renewable energy, strong renewable energy policies are still necessary to guarantee continued investment. A growing number of large companies are requesting access to 100 percent renewable energy to power their operations. That’s because prices for clean, renewable energy are much more stable than other sources of energy, making it a safe long-term investment.