Michigan RSP: A “cheap” alternative energy mandate


With a Michigan energy bill in play, a coalition called the Michigan Sustainable Energy Coalition (MSEC) is lobbying for Michigan to join some 20 other states that have a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The mandate would require that 10 percent of Michigan power generation come from renewables by 2015.

To call the MSEC a rent-seeking coalition is an understatement. The coalition is made up of various windmill (the coalition estimates 60 percent of the standards would be met by wind) and solar manufacturers, farmers, and the usual green groups – all of whom would benefit financially were such a standard adopted.

But with energy rates already high in Michigan, the coalition faces a tough sell. With utilities poised to build new 800 MW coal or nuke plants to meet coming need, the prospect of building 1,500 windmills per 600 MW in this aesthetically-conscious state is daunting.

Rather than argue against coal, the MSEC slickly proposes that wind is needed as a cheap stopgap while utilities build bigger plants. But if it’s cheap and if it’s sensible, why do shareholder-bound utilities need a mandate to do it?

“Because they are stubborn,” says coalition member Jim Croce of NextEnergy – a state-funded (natch) alternative energy group. “They are set up to build coal-plants and they need an RPS so they do the right thing.”

The “right thing” by ratepayers – or the MSEC’s rent-seeking coalition?


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