LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Even as the Michigan Legislature seems poised for an early adjournment, majority Democrats are racing to push through sweeping legislation that would fundamentally change the way energy is regulated and generated here in the state.
Democrats in the House and Senate and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have been talking about renewable energy and getting Michigan to a clean energy standard. They see shifting from coal and natural gas to solar and wind as the future.
“We’re really trying to get Michigan to set a new clean energy standard that moves us and our publicly held and regulated utilities as fast as possible into renewable energy usage while keeping prices affordable,” said Sen. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, who is the chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.
He is holding hearings on new energy policy that would achieve those goals. The goals are relatively easy to define but the policy to get there is more complex.
“Obviously, there are things: What do you do when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind isn’t blowing?” McCann said. “Storage is becoming a bigger and bigger piece of this. But that’s part of this whole process and interplay of the policy conference … making sure that the lights aren’t going to go out — which they’re not and that it’s affordable to make this transition.”
Republicans question both of those premises, with Republican House Floor Leader Bryan Posthumus, R-Rockford, saying that solar and wind alone will not meet Michigan’s energy needs.
“With our current system, with our current grid, I don’t believe so — not without natural gas, not without nuclear,” he said.
Even if the needs can be met, Posthumus worries about two major factors.
“When I’m in my district talking to constituents, when I’m around Michigan talking to residents and citizens of our state, they’re looking for two things in our energy: They’re looking for low cost and high reliability. Those are the two primary things,” he said. “And the Democrat green new deal that they’re pushing right now is going to do the opposite on both. It’s going to make cost go up. It’s going to make reliability go down.”
Before any policy can be voted on or adopted, the stakeholders and legislators have to agree on a plan. That is an ongoing process. With as few as 15 session days before likely adjournment, it could be difficult to get it done and ratified. If the Legislature adjourns early, it is possible that Whitmer could call it back for a special session to consider energy.