A breath of
fresh, clean, air breezed across the state of Michigan this month when Governor
Rick Snyder’s administration announced that Michigan will file a State
Implementation Plan in compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP).
is the first Republican Governor to announce a plan to comply with the CPP,
making his announcement particularly notable. Ironically, Snyder’s
announcement comes as Michigan’s Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette and
15 other attorneys general are petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals to issue
an emergency stay of the federal clean power rules. At issue for Schuette
is not only what he deems government over-regulation, but also concern about
the rule costing jobs and increasing the price of electricity for Michigan
Let’s set the
record straight. The six major renewable energy industries employ over
600,000 Americans nationwide with good family-supporting jobs. The U.S.
wind turbine manufacturing industry has become a vibrant source of economic
activity. More than 500 manufacturing facilities provide investment and quality
jobs in communities in 44 states across the country. American Wind Energy Association data
indicates that Michigan
has 33 wind industry manufacturers and ranks 4th in the country for wind
component manufacturing; neighboring Illinois has 39 manufacturing companies
and ranks 3rd in the nation.
Republican Governor Bruce Rauner should take note. His own transition report highlighted
the positive impact renewable energy has on the state’s economy, and he has
publicly stated that climate change is a man-made phenomenon. Rauner could
follow Snyder’s example and announce that Illinois will comply with the CPP in
a way that helps the state’s economy and leverages its robust renewable energy
resource. Such a move would enhance Illinois’ stellar position as a national
leader in wind component manufacturing and project development.
clean power sources under the CPP will save Midwest consumers millions of
dollars. The cost of wind energy has fallen by two-thirds over the last six
years, and solar installation costs have fallen nearly 40% over the past four
years. These cost trends will continue into future decades.
savings are now being reflected in Midwesterners’ energy bills. For instance,
the Illinois Power Agency found that the state’s existing renewable energy
generation reduced wholesale energy prices by $177 million in 2011. Similarly, Xcel Energy is the nation’s number
one wind energy provider and has cited wind’s low cost as the driving factor in
their investment in wind.
are extremely competitive right now, offering lower costs than other possible
resources, like natural gas plants,” David Sparby, president and CEO of
Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company, said in a
statement in 2013. “These projects offer a great hedge
against rising and often volatile fuel prices.
The same year, Xcel Energy announced that a single wind
purchase will save its customers $590 million in fuel costs, noting that “We
are making these acquisitions purely on economics and the savings we can
deliver to our customers.”
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investor-owned utilities, like Minnesota Power that also serves 16 municipal
systems, are reaping the benefits of low-cost wind energy. The
utility reported recently that the state’s Renewable Energy
Standard (25% renewables by 2025) will save their ratepayers
$71.2 million dollars by 2029. These savings are driven in large part by very
low-cost wind power.
show strong favorability for renewable energy across the political spectrum.
Republicans who see the value renewable energy brings to their states in terms
of jobs, economic development, as well as the environmental benefits, should be
applauded and encouraged to stand their ground.
Renewable energy, especially wind, is reliable and affordable, and
drives jobs and economic development. Facts are facts; and the facts point
conclusively that renewables should not be the poster child for partisan
Governor Snyder has taken a bold step in supporting the Clean Power
Plan. His leadership should be an
example for his Republican peers across the country.
This article was first written for and appeared in Morning Consult.