Unlike other states, there is no question as to whether or not Michigan will attempt to meet the Clean Power Plan’s aggressive targets for carbon dioxide emissions reductions from power plants. We will. The question the state is currently wrestling with is, “How will we do it?”

The Timeline

By September 2016 Michigan must show that we are on a path to developing a plan to comply with a final plan due two years later in September of 2018. To facilitate this process the state must do the following:  1.) Determine how Michigan will meet the mandate, 2.) Measure potential cost impacts, 3.) Implement a new policy to ensure compliance.

Who’s At the Table?

Recently, the state convened a series of meetings with technical advisors. Wolverine Power Cooperative employees Brian Warner, vice president of environmental strategy and Zach Anderson, merchant operations supervisor, participated in these meetings. Other participants included representatives from the Michigan Agency for Energy, Department of Environmental Quality, commissioners, environmental groups, municipals and other stakeholders including DTE and Consumers Energy. The group developed several scenarios as to how Michigan can meet the mandates and what it will cost. Evaluation results will be available mid-February. This will lead to the final step where Michigan must decide what policies will allow it to comply.

The Fundamental Question

Under the Clean Power Plan the EPA gives Michigan a budget for its carbon emissions from baseload coal and natural gas power plants. The EPA does not mandate how the state administers this budget, and that is the fundamental question that must be answered.

“A great way to think about this challenge is to imagine that the EPA came to Michigan and said you get 50 gallons of unleaded fuel per year for every car on the road,” said Anderson. “However, it is up to the state to decide who will be given fuel from the budget and how much they will receive. A couple of options the state has are to distribute 50 gallons to every driver, or they could base it on historical fuel usage. The historical distribution would leave efficient drivers with less than their equal share and inefficient drivers with a greater share.  Similarly, the state must decide where to assign the carbon emissions budget, to all utilities equally or to the highest emitting power plants.”

A Handy 30 Minute Guide

Ready to learn more? Anderson recently participated in a podcast at Cherryland Electric Cooperative. In just 30 minutes it breaks down what the Clean Power Plan is, how it came to be, and what impact it could have on members. Check it out here.