Last September, at a speech at Eastern Michigan University, Thomas Friedman chided the state of Michigan on its lax renewable portfolio standard and challenged it to revamp its economy away from auto manufacturing dependence by adopting the most aggressive rps in the country--30 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2040. In her State of the State address on February 3, Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced a far more ambitious plan, pledging that 45 percent of the state's electricity will be generated by renewable energy by 2020.
Beyond its "45-by-20" target, the Michigan plan is noteworthy in the way that it ties its renewables goal to job creation in the state. Granholm is asking the Michigan legislature to enact a law that will give every utility customer--residential, commercial and industrial--the chance to be a â''renewable energy entrepreneurâ'' by selling back to the grid the renewable energy generated on-site from solar panels, wind turbines or other renewable sources. The Governor is also asking the Public Service Commission to change the way it regulates utility ratesâ''allowing utilities, through a reform of the rate setting mechanism, to make money when they enable customers to cut their electricity use.
Electricity customers of all classes will also have the opportunity to weatherize their homes and install energy efficiency technologies with zero upfront costs through a â''Pay As You Saveâ'' system. The cost of the associated improvements and equipment, including financing, will be added to the customerâ''s utility bill on an installment basis. A portion of the added costs are expected to be offset by fuel savings. The governor said that the state will also require all utilities that have filed plans for new coal fired generatorsâ''eight are currently proposed-- to resubmit generation plans in light of the new RPS standard.
Granholm intends these initiatives not only to encourage more renewable generation but to generate employment for laid off workers installing and manufacturing turbines, panels, and energy saving devices. She also announced a new â''Michigan Energy Corpsâ'' that will put unemployed residents to work weatherizing 100,000 homes and 1000 buildings over the next year.