Whitmer aims for government-owned buildings to use all renewable energy

Michigan

GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (WOOD/WLNS) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday set a goal to power all state-owned facilities completely through renewable energy within the next few years.

“I’m proud to announce today that state-owned office facilities in Michigan will run on 100% renewable energy by 2025,” Whitmer said at an event in Grand Ledge on Earth Day. “That is just around the corner. And it’s an achievable goal with an ambitious timeline that’s only possible because of these key partnerships within government and the private sector. None of us can do this alone, but we absolutely can do it if we work together.”

Whitmer said her administration’s goal will be met by a partnership from DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

“Our clean energy target will protect public health and the environment, and take steps to reduce the harmful impacts of climate change over the next decade,” the governor said.

She also said the program will create jobs in clean energy.

Whitmer is also launching an cross-departmental task force to look for opportunities to build solar farms on state-owned property.

Her announcement came just hours after President Joe Biden met with leaders from 40 of the world’s most powerful countries for a climate change summit. He said he was committing to cutting U.S. fossil fuel emissions up to 52% by 2030.

“Meeting this moment is about more than preserving our planet,” Biden said. “It’s about providing a better future for all of us.”

HOW GREEN IS MICHIGAN?

Michigan is still behind many other states when it comes to renewable energy, but the numbers show it’s doing more.

State utilities are currently required to get 15% of their energy from renewable sources.

“We’re not only on track to meet that, but to exceed it,” Michigan Public Service Commission Chair Dan Scripps said.

Scripps oversees regulating utilities in our state. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2019, renewable resources provided more than 8% of Michigan’s electricity net generation.

Sixty percent of that renewable energy is provided by wind — an area where Michigan is doing well. The state ranks 15th nationally in wind-powered electricity generation. 

“It went from being a requirement that they (utility companies) had to comply with to being in the best interest of their customers,” Scripps said. “It’s because their customers are asking for it and it is often the cheapest energy source that they can get. The fact that it’s clean is an added bonus, but I don’t know if that’s driving it.”

The motivation to go green is now about more green in your wallet.

“Increasingly, it’s helping to save money on their bill, which is great,” Scripps said.

He said that’s true not only for residential customers but also big companies like General Motors and Ford Motor Co.

The state has set a goal to increase renewable and efficient energy usage from 15% to 35% by 2025, which Scripps said we are on pace to hit.

“The air is cleaner and the bills are lower. I think that’s a winning combination,” Scripps said.

For a long time, Michigan’s renewable power source was dominated by wind, but the state says solar is becoming more popular.

If you would like to look at adding renewable energy to your utilities, there are options.

—WLNS digital executive producer Adam Fisher and NewsNation Now contributed to this report.

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