Good morning, class!
As you heard from us last week, the Michigan Senate headed for summer recess without voting on two bills that would harm renewables and energy efficiency. Many senators said that SB 437 and 438 were too big and complicated to vote for without taking a good look at them first.
That's a good thing! We've got the whole summer to school these folks on changes the bills need so that they support, rather than block, Michigan's clean energy future.
So class, as promised, it's time for Lesson No. 1 from our tuition-free, unaccredited, but completely credible Senators' Clean Energy Summer School! Once you've studied up, we hope you'll pass this lesson along, in your own words, to your own senator-who you can identify and email (or better yet, snail mail) using this remarkably handy link .
Senators' Clean Energy Summer School Lesson No. 1:
We Need Strong Renewable Energy Standards, not Loosey-Goosey Goals
You probably know Lansing enacted renewable energy standards in 2008 that triggered almost $3 billion in private investments, tens of thousands of good jobs, and a big drop in wind power prices-all happening on time and way under budget.
But instead of continuing these ridiculously successful standards-which grew renewables by about 1.5 percent per year-SB 437 and 438 replace them with toothless goals that mostly let monopoly utilities make power however they want.
So here are some facts about renewable standards you can school your senator on:
The only way to make state-sanctioned monopolies (i.e., every utility in Michigan) do customers' bidding is to require it. There's little evidence anything else works.
Michigan ratepayers clearly want more clean energy from their utilities. (Here's a link to three different surveys--one by liberals, one by conservatives, and one by university academics confirming that requiring, not just asking, utilities for more clean energy is popular, even among conservatives.)
The state's two largest utilities, who really want an energy bill passed, now say they don't object to increasing the renewable energy standard from 10 percent because they know so many of their customers want more.
Wind power is now incredibly cheap in Michigan, so requiring more will not drive up rates in any significant way.
Alrighty then, class: Your assignment is to pen a brief note to your state senator, make at least a few of these arguments in your own words, and email it, along with the relevant links, from above.
FOR EXTRA CREDIT: Print out your note and the info you use from the links, put it in a manila envelope, and put those U.S. Mail guys to work getting your awesome package to Lansing.
If you do this, we will not assign more homework this week.
Your comments on this effort are welcome, of course. And thanks for helping out. It's crucial for Michigan, our workers, your family's health, and, oh yeah...the climate!
Jim Dulzo is the Groundwork Center’s senior energy policy specialist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Summer School Lessons: