Commentary: Michigan businesses thank lawmakers for strengthening clean energy standards

Sarah Tyler is a policy associate at Ceres.

Last December, after two years of thoughtful debate, Michigan lawmakers passed a bipartisan energy package that will foster a clean energy future for businesses and ratepayers across the state. As the new legislative session gets underway, businesses continue the call for clean energy and thank lawmakers for their leadership last year.

This week, a dozen businesses and trade associations sent a letter to Michigan lawmakers thanking them for increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and strengthening the Energy Optimization Standard.

“Strengthening Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard ensures energy is generated in Michigan — encouraging new investments, innovation, and jobs here at home,” wrote the businesses, including Nestlé, JLL, Eileen Fisher, Worthen Industries, Veolia, and Brewery Vivant.

Lawmakers will work to implement these improved standards in the coming months, creating additional economic development opportunities for the state.

Last year’s energy package increases Michigan’s renewable energy standard from 10 percent in 2015 to 15 percent in 2021. It also strengthens the state’s commitment to energy waste reduction by removing artificial caps on efficiency investments – ultimately helping utilities do more to help customers and businesses save money on their electricity bills.

As the legislature begins a new two-year session, lawmakers should heed the advice of the business community and protect the improved standards. Earlier this month, the Michigan Public Service Commission reported that electricity providers met or exceeded their 10 percent renewable energy target for 2015. The standards have been successful in holding utilities accountable and ensuring they invest in a diversified energy portfolio. Another benefit: for every dollar spent on energy waste reduction, customers are expected to see $4.35 in benefits.

Conservative groups and businesses supported the energy package for one simple reason: energy standards ensure policy certainty for companies and investors.

Renewable energy is now cost-competitive with coal. The Michigan Public Service Commission also reports that wind energy is now the cheapest form of new energy generation. By strengthening Michigan’s clean energy standards, the state will be better prepared to compete in today’s global economy and attract future investment.

For all of these reasons, we hope lawmakers will continue to stand up for clean energy standards, for businesses and ratepayers alike.

Sarah Tyler is an Associate on the Policy Team at Ceres. She works to advance clean energy policy in the Midwest with companies and investors.

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