Consumers Energy is hosting a series of virtual public forums over the next several months to gather public input on the next phase of its long-term clean energy plan.
The events launch the second phase of the Jackson-based utility’s Clean Energy Plan, a process now required of all Michigan regulated utilities based on sweeping energy reforms passed by lawmakers in 2016.
“We are determined to create the best Clean Energy Plan for Michigan — and we can’t do it alone,” Jessica Woycehoski, Consumers Energy senior engineer in electric supply planning, said in a statement. “We need to understand what’s most important to our customers and key stakeholders and how they see the state’s energy future taking shape in the next 20 years.”
The first phase of Consumers’ Clean Energy Plan, approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission in June 2019, called for 6,000 megawatts of new solar power over the coming decade along with a major emphasis on customer programs to reduce energy demand. Consumers officials have said programs involving energy efficiency and demand response are a critical component to the plan that will help the utility avoid building new natural gas plants. The plan also calls for eliminating coal and reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
Consumers’ virtual open houses start on Tuesday at 2 p.m., followed by events on Sept. 15, Oct. 13 and Nov. 10.
Known as integrated resource planning, the utility outlooks span up to the next 20 years and outline how a utility plans to meet customer demand. The IRP process, which passed a Republican-led state Legislature and was signed by former Gov. Rick Snyder, was meant to push utilities on renewables and energy efficiency with market-based decisions and transparent utility analysis.
Groups involved with the planning process at the MPSC, including clean energy advocates and large commercial and industrial energy users, have said the IRP law is working as intended by forcing utilities to perform cost-benefit analyses of renewables and fossil fuels. The ongoing decline in renewable energy prices, as well as customer demand, is already pushing utilities to procure more clean energy resources.