Lawmakers are working to update Michigan’s 8-year-old energy law to account for aging coal plants, new environmental standards and ever-changing technology.
Over the course of the last year, both the Senate and the House released energy reform bills that were passed by their respective committees. These packages are the product of hundreds of hours of dialog and testimony from environmental groups, business owners, utilities and other interested parties.
House Energy Policy Committee Chairman Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton), Senate Energy & Technology Committee Chairman Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) and Senate Energy & Technology Committee Vice Chair John Proos (R-St. Joseph) have tried to move the House and Senate energy plans, respectively. To date, they have been unable to garner enough support to move a package to the floor of either the House or Senate for an up or down vote.
Time is not something that the Michigan legislature has on their side with it being an election year. Additionally, when the legislators return to session this fall there are a host of issues in addition to energy policy they will be faced with including the Detroit school bankruptcy and the Flint water crisis.
While the legislature has adjourned for the summer, Rep. Aric Nesbitt and Sen. Mike Nofs are still working to garner enough support from members and colleagues to bring a package to the floor in the fall.
“Michigan’s electric cooperatives have invested a good deal of time and effort on energy reform over the last couple of years,” said Craig Borr, MECA CEO. “Sen. Nofs and Rep. Nesbitt went above and beyond to ensure that all voices were heard on energy reform legislation and we are hopeful that legislators will act on energy policy sometime this fall.”
House Package Summary
The House bills (H.B. 4297 & 4298) were passed by the House Energy Policy Committee in November 2015. They maintain a 10 percent renewable portfolio standard as well as a 10 percent cap on electric choice with new requirements for alternative energy suppliers. This package also includes a new Integrated Resource Planning process to govern the development of new generation assets in the state. Another energy bill passed by the House that Michigan’s electric cooperatives are very supportive of is H.B. 4575, which would examine the viability of a high voltage transmission line linking the upper and lower peninsulas.
Senate Package Summary
The Senate bills (S.B. 437 & 438) were passed by the Senate Energy & Technology Committee in May 2016. The centerpiece of the bills is a new energy waste reduction goal of 35 percent. Michigan utilities would be expected to meet the target through a combination of renewable energy and energy optimization. The bills also include a new Integrated Resources Planning process, maintain the state’s renewable portfolio standard at 10 percent, and phase out the energy optimization standard.