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MEC to State House: Don't sabotage Michigan's Clean Energy jobs

Jobs, manufacturing base at stake in dustup
Mar 26, 2009
March 26, 2009

To: The Honorable Andy Dillon, Speaker of the House
The Honorable Kevin Elsenheimer, House Republican Leader

Re: Public Act 286 of 2008 and Executive Directive 2009-2

Dear Representatives,

Michigan’s leading environmental groups, signed below, write you today in response to your recent letter to the Governor regarding Executive Directive 2009-2.

The letter unfairly portrays this clean energy directive and its impact on jobs in Michigan. Executive Directive 2009-2 is completely consistent with the energy legislation enacted last year and assures that Michigan is positioned to maximize job creation and protect public health and the environment.

The law you passed last year, Public Act 286 of 2008, requires the Public Service Commission make the following finding based on an approved Integrated Resource Plan before construction of a coal plant can proceed:

"(d) The existing or proposed electric generation facility or proposed power purchase agreement represents the most reasonable and prudent means of meeting the power need relative to other resource options for meeting power demand, including energy efficiency programs and electric transmission efficiencies."

Public Act 286 of 2008 applies this standard to Detroit Edison and Consumer Energy. ED 2009-2 applies virtually the same standard to all energy providers in Michigan. The directive did not “suspend(ed) the permitting and construction of new coal-fired power plants in Michigan.” The directive simply levels the playing field for all providers and all methods of meeting energy demand in the future.

Michigan is at a critical juncture with regard to choosing our energy future, and the danger of proceeding without carefully and fairly weighing the alternatives is enormous.

Michigan ratepayers, rather than stockholders, will bear the burden of billions of dollars of costs associated with any new investments by the state’s utilities. The cost of coal plant construction has risen dramatically in the past few years. Construction of an 830MW coal plant (similar in size to the proposed Bay City facility) will cost almost $2 billion dollars. But that number is dwarfed by the expected $9 billion in coal purchases to power it and the $17 billion in carbon costs the Public Service Commission believes will be paid by ratepayers over the life of a new base load coal plant.

Job creation and economic benefit is also critical to weighing feasible and prudent alternatives. Currently, the largest construction projects in the state are related to clean energy, with thousands of workers expanding Michigan businesses and a revitalizing our manufacturing base. Rushing to a decision to build new base load coal at this time is short-sighted.

We believe that clean energy options – when allowed to compete on a level playing field with coal – will usually prove to be the “most reasonable and prudent” option on economics and job creation criteria alone. The public health and environmental benefits – which we will not detail here – are also compelling and include reductions in pollutants that cause childhood asthma, heart disease, respiratory ailments and poison our lakes and streams.

Executive Directive 2009-2 and Michigan’s new clean energy laws (PAs 286 and 295 of 2008) are both designed to protect Michigan ratepayers. Both should be fully and fairly implemented.


James Clift, Policy Director, Michigan Environmental Council
Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director, Clean Water Action
Mike Shriberg, Policy Director, Ecology Center
Anne Woiwode, State Director Michigan Chapter, Sierra Club
Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director, Michigan League of Conservation Voters

cc. Governor Jennifer Granholm and Michigan House of Representatives
RELATED TOPICS: clean energy, climate change
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