Our view: Open up the energy field in Michigan

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Gov. Rick Snyder’s “no regrets” energy vision for Michigan includes the type of thinking that just might carry the state forward to a more secure energy future. It didn’t include, however, any pledge to make the energy marketplace in Michigan more competitive by opening up the field to other producers.

Snyder’s vision does include reducing dependence on coal-fired plants with newer, cleaner technologies — natural gas and renewables. By doing this, power producers will also contribute to another of the governor’s goals — eliminating waste in the energy chain.

The state needs also to have a reliable system, one that produces energy cheaper than the national average and one that protects the environment by reducing mercury emissions, pollution that creates acid rain and particles.

Finally, Snyder called for an increase in the renewable portfolio based on relative cost, reliability and environmental benefits.

We agree with the governor’s goals, but we would like to see him and the Legislature go further by opening up the state for more energy competition. Right now, the cost of electricity is significantly higher in Michigan than all of its neighbors except Wisconsin, and it is higher than all of the other states in the union except New England, the mid-Atlantic states and California. The price of natural gas also is significantly higher than the average of Great Lakes region states, according to information in a Northwood University report published last week for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The group Energy Choice Now is backing House Bill 5184 as a means to that end.

“Governor Snyder discussed and is rightly concerned that our high utility electricity rates harm residential homeowners, discourages growth, business expansion and job creation and also make Michigan uncompetitive in attracting new business and industry,” said Wayne Kuipers, ECN’s executive director. “While no specific recommendations to solving this problem were laid out in his comments today, the Legislature has already taken steps to bring relief to consumers with the introduction of House Bill 5184. On behalf of job providers and residents, we look forward to addressing the governor’s concern in the coming year by working with him and lawmakers to increase electric competition and decrease electric rates in Michigan.”

This needs to be included in Snyder’s talking points.

View this News Release (external link)
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