Gov. Rick Snyder’s latest energy plans call for more renewables in the power supply, more energy efficiency, and keeping the existing 10 percent cap on the number of customers who can choose their power supplier.
To avoid price spikes and widespread outages, he says the state needs an aggressive plan that moves away from coal and towards using more renewables. “We should not have widespread outages due to a lack of supply, and our residents should endure less than one outage a year on average, and our outages should average less than 2 hours and 15 minutes,” he says.
In his March 13 special message on energy he also called for all consumers to save more energy. “Families and businesses need help from the state in understanding the role they can play in building Michigan as a great state to live and work,” he explained. In particular, he plans to educate renters and landlords on how they can use on-bill financing, smart metering, and other ways to become more energy efficient.
Michiganians already use 38 percent more energy than the national average and pay about 6 percent higher rates on heat and electric bills.
Snyder expects the state to get from 30 to 40 percent of its energy from renewables and efficiency – which he called “energy waste” – by 2025, but doesn’t want to mandate utilities to reach that goal. He also prefers to see existing Energy Optimization fees eliminated, noting that reducing energy waste by at least 15 percent is “very doable” in the next decade.
Meeting these goals, he said, requires an adaptable policy that makes room for what is happening with the price of natural gas and renewables. He envisions natural gas to be between 11 and 26 percent of the state’s electricity mix in 2025, depending on the price of natural gas. Coal is currently at about 54 percent of the mix and is predicted to be 34 to 43 percent in 2025. An acceleration of the MPSC encouraging utilities to improve and maintain the state’s natural gas pipelines is also proposed.
Snyder’s plan to keep the 10 percent choice cap is a key difference from current legislative proposals, but he proposes requiring electric providers in the choice market to prove every five-years that they have enough capacity for their consumers.
Other energy issues on the radar include the looming energy shortfall for the Lower Peninsula, and finalizing transactions to solve the U.P. power crisis. The Midwest Independent System Operator predicts a 3,000 MW shortfall for the Lower Peninsula as early as 2016, and Snyder says a long-term solution to the U.P. energy issues should be in place this year.
Further, Snyder will sign an executive order in March 2015 creating an Agency for Energy that puts all his key energy players under one roof.
“Decisions we make in the coming years will keep energy more affordable and available through a variety of sources while we continue being good stewards of our lakes, air and land,” he said. “We also must ensure that Michigan — not Washington, D.C. – will determine how we move forward, transitioning from the sources of yesterday to newer, cleaner methods.”