Addressing Michigan’s energy options

Upper Peninsula residents were able to have their say about energy issues this afternoon.
Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) Chairman John D. Quackenbush and Michigan Energy Office Director Steve Bakkal hosted the sixth of seven public forums on Michigan’s energy future in Marquette.

They, along with Michigan legislators and local public officials, addressed the issue of “Readying Michigan to Make Good Energy Decisions.” Presenters on the schedule included:

SEMCO Gas – Tom Connelly, Vice President of Rates and Regulations
Michigan Energy Options – John Kinch, Executive Director
Cliffs Natural Resources – Jim Kochevar, General Manager
American Transmission Company – Tom Finco, Vice President, External
Relations & Policy
MSU BioSystems and Agricultural Engineering – Aluel Go, Manager,
Farm Energy Program
National Wildlife Federation – Sarah Mullkoff, Midwest Energy and
Climate Policy Coordinator
Michigan Electric and Gas Association – Dave Donovan, Manager
Regulatory Policy, Xcel Energy
Traxys Power Group – Steve Walsh, CEO and J.R. Richardson,
Technical Manager

The industry leaders and elected officials addressed comments from the public. Topics addressed included Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards, Energy Optimization and Efficiency Standards, and Electric versus other sources.

increasing Michigan’s renewable energy and energy efficiency use at Gov. Rick Snyder’s energy forum held Friday in Marquette.

The forum, the sixth held across the state and the only one in the Upper Peninsula, will help shape a long-term energy plan for Michigan.

Michigan is currently falling behind in the clean energy race. Nearly 30 other states, including Midwest states like Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, have stronger renewable energy or energy efficiency standards than Michigan.

“More than 20 percent of Iowa’s electricity comes from renewable sources, like wind and solar. This isn’t pie in the sky. If it can be done in Iowa, it can be done in Michigan,” said Carrie Masters, a student at Northern Michigan University. “I will be joining Michigan’s skilled workforce soon and believe that with our unrivaled talent and deep manufacturing roots we can lead the clean energy sector.”

Most utilities serving the Upper Peninsula are on track to meet the current renewable energy standard of 10 percent by 2015. The renewable energy standard has created jobs for Michigan workers and sparked local economic development projects across the state, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

The MPSC has determined all utilities serving the Upper Peninsula are on track or exceeding expectations for savings due to energy efficiency programs.

There is no long-term plan beyond 2015 to embrace more homegrown energy sources and reduce the state’s dependence on imported coal, which currently produces nearly 60 percent of Michigan’s electricity.

“The governor’s energy forums are critical for discussing how Michigan can embrace more energy efficiency,” said Kerry Noble, owner of Home Inspection Services in Marquette. “We know for every $1 invested in energy efficiency, customers avoid spending $3.55 on energy. It’s a win-win for the consumer.”

Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs is a bipartisan coalition of more than 300 Michigan businesses, health professionals, labor unions, academics and scientists, agricultural and rural voices, faith leaders, environmental and conservation groups and more.

Members of “Michigan Energy – Michigan Jobs” also discussed goals for the governor’s forum. The bipartisan MEMJ coalition includes more than 300 Michigan businesses, health professionals, labor unions, academics and scientists, agricultural and rural voices, faith leaders, environmental and conservation groups and more.

Industry professionals say written feedback is an important part of this process. Written submissions will be considered in the same manner as verbal comments made at the forums. Public comments may be submitted through April 25 via the website.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

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