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Great Lakes Article:

Bills require portion of state’s electricity to come from clean, renewable sources by 2020
By Kate Finneren-Hessling
The Huron Daily Tribune
Published April 4, 2007

LANSING — New legislation introduced last week in the Michigan Legislature is aimed at getting Michigan on track toward a new energy path by requiring 20 percent of the state’s electricity to come from clean, renewable sources by 2020.

“We’re looking ahead and anticipating there are going to be some federal mandates that will have to do with carbon mandates ... and I think we’re going to see benefits from the federal government that are going to support our efforts here,” said Rep. Terry Brown, D-Pigeon, who co-sponsored the Michigan House bill dubbed HB-4539. “So instead of playing a catch up game that will set us behind and have us pay maybe more exorbitant costs for our energy because it’s carbon-based, this way we’ll move ahead of the curve and can hopefully save our residents some money.”

Combined with strong energy efficiency policy, advocates from Environment Michigan — a statewide, citizen-based, non-profit, non-partisan environmental advocacy organization — say this bill (also known as SB-385 in the Michigan Senate) would save consumers more than $2 billion on electricity bills, generate more than $3 billion in new salaries and help reduce the $20 billion Michiganders spend on energy imports every year.

“HB-4539 and SB-385 set the long-term targets needed to bring investment and thousands of jobs to Michigan, protect our air and water quality and reduce global warming pollution,” said Environment Michigan Clean Energy Advocate Kim Pargoff in a press release Tuesday. “The Legislature’s tremendous support for these strong bills shows that Michigan must lead and not lag to recap the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy.

Brown said the Thumb already is poised to become a worldwide leader in the production of renewable resources.

“We have the expertise, the experience, and the talented work force — let’s keep these jobs and these investments here at home instead of letting other states benefit,” he said.

According to Environment Michigan, the bill introductions come just as the Legislature is debating a major overhaul of our state’s electricity system and on the heels of the Urban Core Mayors — mayors from cities whose metro areas represent 80 percent of Michigan’s population — endorsing a 15 percent by 2015 Renewable Energy Standard that’s even stronger than HB-4539 and SB-385. “We need to set the bar higher just to catch up to many of our Great Lakes neighbors,” said Sen. Jim Barcia, D-Bay City, primary sponsor of SB-385, in a statement Tuesday. “This bill complements similar efforts and hopefully moves the discussion forward on how we reap the maximum benefit from alternative energy as quickly as possible.”

The Legislature is expected to hold hearings on renewable energy soon after returning from spring break.

©Huron Daily Tribune 2007
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