A compromise on Michigan’s energy plan
A comprehensive energy package that has been working its way through the Legislature has reached a crucial stage. After months of public hearings and workgroup meetings, the Michigan House and Senate passed their versions of two bills that would determine the state’s energy policy for years to come.
As is often the case with complex legislation, the final details will be negotiated in conference committees – one for each bill. Three senators and three representatives will serve on each of the committees, and I was appointed to both of them. These committees will play a key role in determining the final product that both the House and Senate will approve before the legislation is signed into law.
This could have a lasting impact on the future of energy production in our state. As someone who worked in the private sector purchasing energy and helped develop Michigan’s current energy policy during my time in the House, I have a solid understanding of the issues at hand.
The first part of the package, House Bill 5524, deals with public utility regulations and seeks to balance the needs of providing electricity at an affordable rate with the need to significantly upgrade the infrastructure that supplies that power. Michigan is at a historic crossroads as it determines our own energy future and works to create jobs in the energy field and not become more dependent on other states or countries for our energy needs. We must also update our energy structure in a way that provides incentives for current suppliers to expand their presence in our communities, while maintaining the healthy competition with innovative upstarts that currently exist.
The second part of the package, Senate Bill 213, addresses the need for renewable energy standards in Michigan. We need to diversify our energy production methods, and I strongly encourage businesses to develop clean, reliable and affordable energy for our future. Instituting a government mandate would be both unrealistic for businesses and costly for residents. In these tough economic times, there must be a way to integrate renewable energy into the system while also providing Michigan’s residents with a minimal rate increase.
As a veteran of legislative compromise, I would warn the public to be wary of biased outside groups and their over-the-top efforts to influence the debate. Creative media stunts and catchy one-liners are no substitute for reasoned debate among the conference committee members, industry experts and legislative leaders. I am certain that each of the lawmakers on these committees will take great care to develop legislation that is fair to all interested parties. From environmental groups to the public utility providers and, most importantly, to you the consumers, we will be mindful of the long-term costs and benefits of any proposal.
I am confident that if we avoid partisan sniping and come together as dedicated public servants seeking to make Michigan a destination for both people and businesses, we will reach a balanced compromise that can makes us all proud.
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Posted: Wednesday, August 06, 2008
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