Report: Michigan has 300+ clean energy businesses, regulatory changes could spur more

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    Updated, 2:52 p.m., 12/4/19 with the corrected link to the report

    The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) released a policy report Wednesday morning praising the progress Michigan has made on renewable energy and identifying areas that still need improvement.

    Growth in Michigan’s renewable energy sector has been spurred on by a combination of decreasing costs, technological improvements and beneficial policy decisions, the ELPC’s report says.* It goes on to make the case that this growth can continue – and potentially make Michigan a leader in clean energy – with changes to state policies and regulations.

    The report is titled, “Michigan Clean Energy Business Supply Chain: Good for Manufacturing Jobs, Good for Economic Growth, and Good for Our Environment,” and identifies 316 Michigan companies that are involved in solar energy, wind energy or both. The listed businesses are located in all 14 of Michigan’s congressional districts, all 38 state Senate districts and in 91 of the 110 state House districts.

    Report: Michigan ranks 13th in energy efficiency among states

    Detroit and Grand Rapids boast the most solar and/or wind energy companies, with 16 located in each city. Ann Arbor is home to 14. Michigan as a whole employs more than 9,500 renewable energy workers.

    To expand this number and therefore expand the state’s clean energy sector, the ELPC made several policy recommendations:

    • Knocking down barriers that prevent more Michiganders from investing in renewable energy.
      • Redesign the state’s new distributed generation tariff so solar energy can be properly valued once again.
      • Update Michigan’s outdated standards for connecting distributed generation to the grid, so projects can be streamlined and unnecessary costs and delays can be avoided
    • Develop more in-state renewable energy capacity.
      • Update the state’s renewable electricity standard, which was set in 2016 with the goal of reaching 15% renewable energy by 2021. Minnesota and Illinois have more ambitious plans of reaching 25% by 2025.
      • Require state electric utilities to “fully and fairly consider” clean energy resources while developing their long-term energy plans. This was one of the complaints made against DTE’s investment plan that ELPC and eight other environmental groups made in a “report card” evaluation of DTE Energy last month.

    Enviros give DTE Energy failing grade on clean energy

    While making a subtle dig at DTE Energy, the report also praises Consumers Energy for the utility company’s bold plan to build 5,000 megawatts of solar infrastructure by 2030.

    Laina G. Stebbins
    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, civil rights and criminal justice. She is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or listening to podcasts, she loves art and design, discovering new music, being out in nature and spending time with her two very special cats.