Michigan Gives Coal The Cold Shoulder

The current population of the state of Michigan is estimated to be 10.02 million people. In February 2019, state utilities used coal (37.6%), nuclear energy (30.1%), natural gas (24.4%) and renewable energy (7.8%) to generate electricity. Wind, hydropower and biomass are the primary sources of renewable energy in Michigan.

Michigan’s reliance on coal and nuclear energy contributes to state’s high electricity costs. In February 2019, the average cost of electricity in Michigan was U.S. 15.1 ¢ per kWh, which is the 11th most expensive price in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States is 12.5 ¢ per kWh.

Concerns over climate change has prompted legislators to pass laws designed to accelerate the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Michigan now implemented financial incentive programs for renewable energy, like wind and solar. In February 2017, Michigan legislators enacted Public Act 295, which requires all state utilities to generate to 15% of all electricity sales from renewable energy by 2021.

The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) recently approved Consumer Energy’s integrated resource plan which includes closing the Karn coal-fired power plant by 2023. Consumer Energy has also announced plans to eliminate all coal-fired power plant by 2040. Consumer Energy is a public utility headquartered in Jackson, Michigan that provides electricity and natural gas to 6.7 million Michigan residents.

Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer has recently announced a plan that will open 3.4 million acres for solar development. The plan will allow landowners to add solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to farmland and still receive renewable energy tax incentives.

In a press conference, Governor Whitmer stated, “My administration understands and is committed to helping meet the growing demand for clean, renewable energy sources in our state. By preparing for and investing in renewable energy, we’re protecting our environment while diversifying revenue options for Michigan farmers and supporting economic development and job creation in a key Michigan industry.”

Utilities across America are giving coal, the cold shoulder. Why? Concerns about climate change, contamination of ground water from coal ash, air quality and economics. Each individual reason is compelling to abandon the use of coal-fired power plants. Collectively, there is no reason for any utility to use coal to generate power in America.


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