October 29, 2012

Clinton supports Michigan's Renewable Energy Initiative

President Bill Clinton is supporting the clean energy ballot initiative that would increase Michigan's renewable electricity targets to 25 percent by 2025. And a majority of Michiganders say they support new targets that would diversify the state's electricity mix — stimulating billions of dollars in renewable energy investments while only adding about 50 cents per month to the average residential utility bill.

Michigan gets 59 percent of its electricity from coal. That's one of the major reasons why Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, the state's largest utilities, are opposed to new targets. According to a recent economic analysis, the cost of delivering coal to power plants in the state has jumped by 71 percent since 2006. Consumers Energy has projected fuel cost increases to total around $530 million over the next four years. 

That is also the reason why contracts for renewable electricity are coming in lower than the cost of new coal. In February, the Michigan Public Service Commission issued a progress report of the state's current renewable electricity standard requiring 10 percent penetration by 2015, finding that the cost of wind, solar, and hydro "is cheaper than a new coal-fired generation" in the state.
In fact, on multiple occasions over the last four years, Consumers Energy reported that the cost of meeting Michigan's current renewable electricity targets has been far lower than expected. In May, the company reduced its renewable electricity surcharge by 13 cents. It also reduced the surcharge in May of 2011, citing the lower-than-expected cost of meeting targets.
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