Groups Call on Snyder To Embrace Clean Energy
Consumers Energy's Coal Plant Closings Should Spark Policy Change
LANSING –The decision announced today by Consumers Energy to shutter seven Michigan coal plants and cancel long-standing plans for a new one means the Snyder administration should abandon its support for coal and strongly embrace clean energy policies.
“Governor Snyder can no longer ignore the fact that Michigan’s future is not with coal,” Sierra Club’s Tiffany Hartung said, reacting to the news today that Consumers Energy is closing coal plants in favor of clean energy alternatives. “The real question is whether Michigan will be getting the clean energy jobs or some other state or country. Because of the administration’s support for coal, we’ve wasted more than a year and allowed other states and countries to get ahead of us. We should be moving boldly ahead with strong clean energy policies.”
Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director for Clean Water Action, said the governor should immediately begin working on a comprehensive economic development plan focused on expanding clean energy jobs in Michigan.
“Every day we delay means we fall further behind other states and countries,” said Roper. “Michigan can do better, but only if Lansing politicians either get out of the way or stand with us and decide to start looking toward the future.”
Consumers Energy plans to close seven coal facilities in Muskegon, the Bay City area and Luna Pier, south of Monroe. With plans for new wind farms in Mason and Tuscola counties, Consumers expects to be able to meet its forecasted energy needs without those seven coal plants plus a proposed new one near Bay City that was cancelled by Consumers today.
“It’s great to see Consumers Energy embracing clean energy as a better deal for its customers than coal,” said Roper. “The plants they are closing are old and their pollution has been damaging people’s health.”
The groups also called on Consumers to develop transition plans for communities where coal plants are being closed to provide training and other support for workers.
The coal plant decisions come as Consumers recently announced it was lowering costs to its 1.8 million customers for renewable energy charges, a projected $54 million savings. A proposed coal plant for the Bay City area that was scuttled today was the 159th proposed plant in the United States to be cancelled in recent years.
“There is consensus brewing here---Consumers Energy has come to the same conclusion as 158 other companies, that coal just doesn’t make economic sense,” said Shannon Fisk of the Midwest Office of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The $3.5 plus billion that would have gone towards a dirty plant can have a much better impact in Michigan going towards energy efficiency and renewable energy resources that will create jobs, save ratepayer money, and benefit public health.”
According to a 2009 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Michigan can meet its energy needs through a combination of wind power, biomass, and other renewable energy sources coupled with aggressive energy efficiency programs. Among the NRDC’s findings:
Energy efficiency program alone could save Michigan $3 billion in electricity costs over the next 20 years. Michigan’s previous energy plan, written in 2007, is out of date, with unrealistic projections of future electrical demand, limited implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy, and reliance on outdated 20th century coal technologies. Clean renewable energy is less expensive, cleaner, faster, more economically robust, and creates more jobs in Michigan than a 20th century plan based on new but obsolete large power plants driven by fossil fuels.
 Natural Resources Defense Council, “A Green Energy Alternative for Michigan,” http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/ene_09081101.asp