A large penetration of electric vehicles is not in Michigan’s near-future, so advocates say EV drivers shouldn’t be hit with steep fee increases based on the state’s road funding formula. That is the prospect under a road funding law enacted in 2015, but clean energy groups hope the issue is revisited before electric vehicle drivers potentially see some of the highest registration fees in the country.

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A bipartisan group of state lawmakers introduced a bill this month calling for the expanded use of microgrids, which help utilities and private customers rely on localized power generation during outages. House Bill 4477— sponsored by state Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland — aims to build grid resilience by allowing customers who generate their own power to disconnect from the grid during outages.

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A recent report found that Michigan leads the Midwest in clean energy jobs, but top state energy officials say the state and industry could foster a more diverse workforce.

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The closure date of a large coal plant along the Lake Michigan shoreline could be moved up under a proposed settlement agreement between Consumers Energy and multiple environmental and energy groups. In late March, the Jackson-based utility announced it had reached a deal with groups over its long-term energy plan, which includes closing all of its coal units and building out thousands of megawatts of solar energy by 2040.

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Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey had a message for reporters when asked to respond to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal earlier this year to form a dedicated climate change office. “I just find it fascinating that we can sit here in Michigan in the chamber of the House and think that we can control the climate,” he said.

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A $1.4 million line item in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $60.2 billion budget proposal unveiled March 5 calls for a three-year project to catalog “hazardous materials pipelines” that cross Michigan waterways. Department of Natural Resources Director Daniel Eichinger told lawmakers this month the study, spurred by the debate over Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, is needed to fill an information gap about dangers posed to Michigan waters.

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A San Diego firm’s proposed sale of its renewable energy assets will not affect plans for a wind energy project in West Michigan, company officials say. On Feb. 12, Sempra Renewables announced plans to sell its assets to a subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power Co. Inc. for $1.1 billion. Sempra’s portfolio includes 724 megawatts (MW) of wind energy and battery storage across the U.S.

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Over the past two weeks, Attorney General Dana Nessel has drawn attention to Michigan’s increasing electricity rates, pleasing consumer advocacy groups who say the issue has received little attention. Speaking to Michigan State University’s Institute of Public Utilities on Feb. 22, Nessel said in a statement she wants to “revive the legacy” of former Attorney General Frank Kelley in advocating for the public in rate cases before the Michigan Public Service Commission.

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A nonprofit “green bank” that finances residential and commercial clean energy projects continues to grow, surpassing $175 million in private investment since 2009. Officials with Michigan Saves Inc., which provides low-interest loans for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, have an ambitious goal of $1 billion of investment by 2023.

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Sunday, 17 February 2019 17:51

Whitmer appoints clean energy backer to MPSC

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed former state representative and clean energy advocate Dan Scripps to the Michigan Public Service Commission on Feb. 8, filling a key vacancy as the administration brings a heightened focus to renewable energy and climate change.

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