All the fussin’ and fightin’ over Michigan’s energy future hits a crucial round today or Wednesday: The state House votes on two lousy energy bills, HB 4297 and HB 4298. So it’s time to give your state rep a well-informed earful about clean energy.
We’ll always need a rock-solid, unshakably constant supply of power. But today there are other ways to do that besides merely burning more fossil fuel.
New distributed energy technologies, new grid control systems, and new demand-side energy services should be part of what has been an under-informed, truncated conversation about meeting Michigan’s future electricity needs.
Peter Boogaart knows exactly what he’ll do when he retires later this month. The longtime Holland-area resident is leaving the Ottawa County Community Action Agency after six years of helping low-income families tighten up their homes to cut their often budget-crushing energy bills. Now the 66-year-old home efficiency veteran will ramp up his already strong volunteer involvement in the Holland Community Energy Plan’s home efficiency retrofit project, which aims to cut gas and electric consumption of each of the city’s 7,000-plus homes by up to 50 percent over 40 years.
For close to two years, more than a dozen home energy assessors, contractors, and workers from three local companies have made the city-sponsored pilot home-efficiency program tick. They’ve made more than 500 Traverse City homes-a remarkable 20 percent of the town’s owner-occupied residences-more comfortable and affordable. The success stories-and the jobs and savings they produce-could multiply dramatically if some Traverse City civic, business, and elected leaders find a way to expand TCSaves into a permanent, communitywide program.
With Gov. Rick Snyder set to deliver his Special Message on Energy on Nov. 28, several Republican state representatives are declining to say whether they will renew their attack on Michigan’s “energy optimization” law, which saves residents money by requiring utilities to help customers use less power and natural gas.