Michigan Cools On Coal While Warming To Renewables

State Overview

The population of Michigan, known as the “Great Lakes State” is approximately 10.04 million people. Michigan is the 10th most populated state in the United States.

In 2023, Michigan’s economy was ranked 14th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP),  The state’s economy is dependent on advanced manufacturing, automobile, aerospace, semi-conductor, lithium-ion battery, cybersecurity, and agriculture industries.

Environmental Policies

In 2008, Michigan enacted a Renewable Energy Standard which required all utilities sell 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2021.

In 2016, Michigan established a Renewable Energy Goal that all utilities sell 35% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2035.

Power Generation Capabilities

In October 2023, utilities used natural gas (45.8%), coal (23.0%), nuclear energy (20.4%), and renewable energy (10.8%) to generate electricity in Michigan. Wind and hydropower are the dominant types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Michigan.

In October 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in Michigan was 19.06¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 16.21¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Michigan include:

  • 650 MW Solar Projects – Michigan utility DTE Energy is continuing work on building solar projects at multiple locations for the Ford Motor Company in Michigan. All the solar projects are scheduled to be commissioned by 2025.
  • 225 MW Wind Project – In April 2023, DTE commissioned the Meridian Wind project at a site approximately 75 miles north-northeast of Lansing.
  • 200 MW Solar Project – In July 2023, Illinois power company, Invenergy commissioned the Calhoun solar project at a site approximately 50 miles southwest of Lansing.
  • 149 MW Solar Project – In December 2022, California solar company, Swinerton Renewable Energy commissioned the River Fork solar project at a site approximately 45 miles south of Lansing.
  • 79 MW Solar Project – In December 2021, Illinois solar company, Ranger Power commissioned the Assembly Solar III project at a site approximately 40 miles northeast of Lansing.
  • 72 MW Solar Projects – In December 2022, California solar company, Borrego commissioned three solar projects which will have a total capacity of 72 MW.
  • 20 MW Solar Project – In June 2021, British utility National Grid commissioned the Bingham Solar project at a site approximately 15 miles north of Lansing.

Conclusions

Commercial coal mining began in Michigan in 1890. Coal was initially used to fuel steam engines for the railroad, forges, and furnaces.

Michigan’s last commercial coal mines closed in the 1950s. Most of the coal used to fuel Michigan’s power plants is now brought by rail from Wyoming and Montana.

In 2010, 58.7% of Michigan’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. In October 2023, 23.0% of Michigan’s electricity was generated from coal. Why the decrease?

  1. Economics – The cost to generate power from wind, solar, and hydropower is significantly cheaper than coal. The cost to generate power from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of wind or solar.
  2. Environment – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have contaminated the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America.
  3. Climate Change – Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

Over the past decade, the abundance of cheap natural gas has prompted Michigan’s utilities to shift from coal to natural gas power plants. However, Michigan is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels (natural gas, coal, and oil) for the state’s electricity.

Michigan has significant renewable energy resource potential, including wind, solar, and biomass. State utilities are accelerating the development of renewable energy projects, as coal and natural gas prices continue to increase. The Great Lakes State continues to cool on coal and while warming to low-cost, reliable renewable energy.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on a diverse range of energy issues.

 

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