Sr. National Representative Jim Harrison and BlueGreen Alliance Michigan and Wisconsin Regional Program Manager, Sue Browne have been spending the past couple of weeks meeting with the Michigan Senate and House Democrats, (almost all the Senate Dems and the House Dems who are on the Energy Committee) to talk about energy policy and jobs. One meeting was held with Mike Nofs, (R) Senate Energy Committee Chair, who is expected to introduce a package of energy bills soon. Many of these meetings have been meet and greets to talk about UWUA priorities and also the BGA’s work in Michigan.
The discussions entail informing the legislators that we support a package that contains a transparent Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) model for energy needs planning in the state, lifting the limit on energy efficiency spend but decoupling that spend from rates, so that the utilities can invest more and still maintain critical revenue. We have not taken a position on a renewable energy percentage nor an energy efficiency percentage. We do think that it is best for all of Michigan to return to a fully regulated market to ensure proper utility investment and planning and protection of price sensitive customers. The UWUA and the BGA introduced a report on Energy Efficiency savings in the public buildings that also reflect the type of job growth possible with such an investment. It was pointed out that a deep investment in school energy efficiency could be used as a method to keep schools off the customer choice list. Michigan could develop a green bank or float bonds to pay for upfront energy efficiency costs.
At these meetings it was pointed out that Michigan should consider the jobs impacts and potential areas of job growth upfront when considering energy policy.
Additionally, the UWUA and the BGA have petitioned that any increase in investments in renewables should also contain a buy Michigan provision that ensures Michigan supply chain and manufacturing, was well as prevailing wage protection. Lastly and importantly we have been asking the legislators (including Nofs) to consider the tax, revenue and job implications associated with power plant closings. As the Dems seek an increase in renewables and energy efficiency and possibly percentages, they need to consider worker and community impacts to plant closures and need to focus on economic redevelopment for affected communities. This point has been well received and no one has indicated that this has been part of the conversation. It has been left up to the utilities to take care of that. The newly authorized 2016 POWER grants from the Obama administration as a source of revenue for planning for economic redevelopment for power plant communities has been shared with every legislator the UWUA and the BGA have met with.