Renewable energy without a utility rate hike on state residents
A recent editorial in the Toledo Blade about a Michigan House renewable energy legislative package inaccurately stated that I co-sponsored the measures. I want to clarify that I did not sponsor the legislation, nor do I support the bills in their current form as they will increase utility rates on already over-burdened state residents.
Instead, I support a Senate proposal unanimously passed in March that would institute an aggressive renewable portfolio standard in Michigan without a government mandate or a surcharge on consumers. The measures call for state government to purchase increasing amounts of renewable energy during the next two decades as long as the energy can be economically produced.
Senate Bill 1000 would require the Michigan Department of Management and Budget to purchase 3 percent of renewable electrical energy by Jan. 1, 2009, 10 percent by 2010, 20 percent by 2020, and 25 percent by 2025. The purchase requirement will exist as long as the price of renewable energy is within five percent of non-renewable energy.
Although the Senate Republican proposal will not place a mandate on consumers, ratepayers will still have the option to buy renewable energy. Under Senate Bill 1040, consumers could receive an income tax credit up to $200 a year to offset the higher cost.
I have also sponsored a companion measure, Senate Bill 1041, which would require utility companies to include information on customers’ bills to educate consumers about the availability of renewable energy programs and potential tax credits. We want to encourage state residents to buy renewable energy, but we don’t want to impose a government mandate.
Under the House proposal, there is no guarantee that the 10 percent level of renewable energy usage will even be achieved—the only guarantee is that a new 20 year tax will be created for state residents to pay. The Senate is taking a deliberative approach to RPS legislation to ensure that the higher cost of renewable energies is not simply passed on to residents via higher utility rates.
We all agree that reliable and affordable energy is essential for Michigan’s 21st century economy; the difference is in how to achieve these goals. The Senate favors a government-first approach that calls on state government—rather than private ratepayers—to lead the way on renewable fuel usage.
Michigan must develop a clean, efficient and economically feasible energy source, but this should be accomplished without further injuring its fragile economy.
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Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2008
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