September 29, 2016

Governor Says ‘Work Together On Energy, Environmental Issues’

Adaptability has to be the foundation of every energy decision we make,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in his December message on energy and the environment. “First,” he emphasized, “we need to make sure our energy supplies are reliable.” Using the adaptability theme, he noted three pillars that every decision must stand on:

#1 Reliable Energy

  • Upgrade the transmission and electrical system to keep the economy growing.
  • Michigan has growing reliability challenges, for example, the U.P. has 12 “yellow alerts” every year (meaning all it takes is for one more thing to go wrong and everybody’s power could be out for days). Another is when the electrical grid went down in 2003, causing a widespread blackout in Michigan and the eastern U.S.
  • The Wolverine Power/We Energies plan to save the Presque Isle Power Plant (see p. 20) is a good start, but “let’s connect the Peninsulas” with electricity.
  • Use more of our natural gas assets; many are on state land, it’s better than coal, and we have prime areas to store it.
  • “Fracking” to retrieve natural gas. “It’s been done here safely for over a decade because we’re doing it the right way.”

#2 Affordable Energy

  • Our electric prices are the highest in the Midwest because we have to import coal.
  • Energy efficiency supports jobs, saves energy, money, and is good for the environment.
  • Conserve more energy. Since 2010, over 1,700 Michiganders have used funds from the “Michigan Saves” program (michigansaves.org) to improve their homes and save about $350 in yearly energy costs. The program is expanding to include businesses like small grocery and convenience stores.
  • In 2012, private financial institutions statewide offered over $68 million for efficiency improvements in buildings.
  • Energy use in state buildings has been reduced nearly 25 percent; upgrades continue.
  • Find steady funding to help low-income people with heating costs. Utilities must work closer with people before shutting the power off.

#3 Protect the Environment

  • Energy and the environment must be considered together in preserving land, water and trails. The DNR is to offer better land/trail use options by spring. Link our trails to other states.
  • Aggressively educate, prevent and defend against over 180 invasive species threatening our waters (i.e., Asian carp).
  • Merge scientific/economic/environmental practices into one water protection system. Invite Great Lakes Governors to a 2013 summit.
  • Re-establish a Water Use Advisory Council. Strategize on inland lake and drought issues.
  • Battle urban blight and plan for vacant land use (i.e., urban farming). Toughen landlord laws and bar property tax delinquents from land auctions.
  • Help farmers and agribusinesses comply with environmental regulations.
  • Improve recycling; create a plan by 2014. (Only 21 of 83 counties have strong programs.)
  • Raise renewable energy use through legislation—not the Constitution; discuss this year.

See the Governor’s full speech at: michigan.gov/documents/snyder/EE_Message_FINAL_pdf_404563_7.pdf