(Source: MIRS.news, Published 05/23/23) Democratic lawmakers and clean energy advocates are charged up to transition Michigan to renewable energy.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) is leading a legislative push to reduce energy waste and transition towards a “100% carbon free” clean energy standard that includes nuclear energy by 2035.
Singh said he’s pushing to make sure “all of our coal plants are shut down by 2030," something he hopes
SB 273 and SB 271 will help make happen. Singh said the bills come at the request of residents who are calling on their legislators to take bold action against the climate crisis.
Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor)'s SB 271 moves the state's renewable energy portfolio standard from the current 15% to 60% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. The Attorney General or a customer of a municipal-run utility could sue the utility if it doesn't meet this portfolio standard, under the bill.
“The climate crisis is a threat multiplier,” said Dr. Elizabeth Del Buono, president of Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action.
Del Buono said the climate situation exacerbates manageable medical conditions into medical emergencies by causing longer, more severe allergy and asthma seasons, greater exposure to disease carrying mosquitoes and ticks and more frequent extreme weather events.
“Cleaner air saves lives and health care dollars,” Del Buono said.
The climate crisis disproportionately affects Black and Brown populations, said Max Kendall, environmental justice organizer for Michigan United.
“We cannot allow certain people to sacrifice to create a better future,” Kendall said.
The transition to clean energy poses a “tremendous economic opportunity” to the state, said John Freeman, executive director of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association.
Freeman said homeowners, business owners and farmers will save money because the electricity generated from renewable energy costs less than that of fossil fuels, and jobs will be created from the work it would take to build solar power systems, wind turbine systems, implement electric vehicle chargers and rehabilitate homes to meet energy efficiency standards.
Local governments need the cooperation of utility companies to move towards carbon neutrality, said Sen. Sue Shink (D-Ann Arbor).
SB 272 sponsored by Shink would expand the purview of the Michigan Public Service Commission to include affordability and the effects of power generation on climate change.
Shink said the Legislature will see how major utility companies respond to the proposed legislation and “if they’re openly and actively supporting that legislation, we’ll know they’re on board.”