Michigan climate plan calls for 60% renewable energy by 2030

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TRAVERSE CITY, MI — Michigan would get 60% of its electricity from renewable sources and build infrastructure to accommodate millions of electric vehicles over the next eight years if the state can meet the goals of a climate plan proposed by the administration of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The final plan, released Thursday, April 21 while the governor was attending a tourism conference in Traverse City, builds on existing climate-focused efforts to achieve the governor’s goal of a fully carbon-neutral state. in 27 years, in 2050.

Whitmer presented the MI Healthy Climate Plan as a roadmap to create clean energy jobs, drive economic development, protect the environment and improve public health by reducing climate-altering emissions from multiple economic sectors.

“If we follow the steps outlined in the plan and work with public and private sector partners, we can build a Michigan where every Michigander has clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and access to clean water. healthy and affordable local foods,” said Whitmer. . “Today, we’re positioning Michigan to be the global center for clean energy innovation where workers can get well-paying jobs, from those that don’t require a college degree to careers in engineering. and cutting-edge science.”

The plan has been in the works since Whitmer ordered the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to begin work on it in 2020. The State Climate Solutions Council within EGLE has incorporated public feedback on draft plans over the past few months.

A United Nations scientific report released since the release of the draft state plan has highlighted the urgency of the climate crisis and said the more society depends on fossil fuels for energy, the greater the scale of future suffering. heat waves and droughts, floods and destructive storms will be great. .

Michigan’s plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 28% by 2025 with an interim goal of 52% by 2030. To do so, the state will need to cut its emissions by about 93 million metric tons.

To achieve this, Michigan must increase the use of renewable energy and electric vehicles, increase public transportation, reduce emissions from homes and businesses, encourage industrial decarbonization, and capture carbon using natural resources.

“Coordinated action by all Michiganders will be needed to achieve the deep reductions in GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions that our state needs to meet its goals,” the plan says.

To decarbonize the power grid, the plan calls for accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired power plants and supporting solar generation through rooftop programs and the siting of solar panels on state land. The state “must adopt” a 50% renewable energy standard by 2030, he says.

The state should drive solar adoption through voluntary green pricing programs, rooftop and community grids, demand response, battery storage, and other efforts.

In transportation, the plan calls for Michigan’s infrastructure to support 2 million electric vehicles by 2030. It encourages consumers to purchase electric vehicles and charging stations, as well as increase transportation by and the transition of various fleets to zero-emission vehicles, with a priority on communities with high levels of air pollution.

The plan calls for the adoption of a clean fuel standard, which is a policy approach that requires suppliers to gradually reduce carbon in transportation fuels over time.

In the built environment, the plan calls for reducing emissions from homes and businesses by 17% by 2030 and encouraging investment in weatherization and other energy efficiency projects through building codes. and funding mechanisms.

The plan estimates that Michigan households could save an average of $460 on their energy bills each year if they switched to modern heat pump water heaters and water heaters instead of using heat pump appliances. oil or propane heating.

In the industrial sector, decarbonization could be accelerated by sharing infrastructure and co-locating facilities in “clean innovation hubs”, increasing the use of circular economy procurement, using more recycled products and installing cleaner technologies and carbon capture devices where complete elimination of fossil fuel use is not required. it is not feasible.

In natural resources, the plan calls for protecting 30% of Michigan’s land and water by 2030 to naturally capture emissions in forests and wetlands, and encouraging farms to improve soil health. and store carbon.

“If protected and managed appropriately, Michigan’s natural and working lands can store and sequester carbon and provide additional benefits, including limiting pollution from runoff, providing habitats that support biodiversity and reducing the impacts on Michigan communities from more frequent and intense flooding, extreme heat, and other effects of climate change,” the plan states.

The plan presents its recommended actions as an opportunity to help right historic environmental wrongs and calls for 40% of state funding for climate and water infrastructure to benefit disadvantaged communities, a goal consistent with federal justice efforts. environmental.

The plan was hailed by climate advocates and environmental groups who had pushed for more aggressive action after the plans were published months ago.

“It’s leaps and bounds better than the stupid plan,” said Charlotte Jameson, policy officer at the Michigan Environmental Council, who noted that Whitmer’s administration has the discretion to begin implementing certain elements, but will need the cooperation of the legislature and the private sector on some of the more ambitious goals.

“You would hope that they would start moving full speed ahead to implement the things that they are able to do on their own,” she said.

Margrethe Kearney, senior counsel at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, noted that the plan builds on existing efforts, such as major investments in electric vehicle infrastructure.

“While the focus of the report is climate, the strategies promoted are focused on extracting economic value from how we respond,” said Margrethe Kearney, senior counsel at the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

“Building on what you already have is much more likely to succeed than trying to create entirely new regimes, policies and programs from scratch,” she said.

Jameson said the plan doesn’t really address new natural gas power generation or reducing the existing number of such facilities, which generate significant carbon emissions.

The climate plan is also silent on nuclear generation, a type of emission-free energy on which Whitmer made a bid to expand his reliance on this week by asking the federal government to direct the money to keep the Palisades nuclear plant near South Haven in operation after closing in May. .

Michigan, which gets about a third of its electricity from nuclear generation, could potentially exceed the climate plan’s renewable energy goal if Palisades stays online and utilities maintain their plans to phase out fossil fuels, according to environmental groups.

The rollout of the plan follows a proposed settlement announced this week between Consumers Energy and key stakeholders, in which the utility agreed to end its use of coal by 2025, increase battery storage and add nearly 8,000 megawatts of solar generation by 2040.

Consumers, who are Michigan’s largest energy supplier, proposed last year to end all coal use by 2025 and close the JH Campbell plant in Ottawa County, but a The state’s administrative judge this spring cast doubt on that plan by recommending that one unit stay in line.

The Campbell plant is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Michigan, behind the DTE Monroe power plant, and its continued operation would have undermined the goals of the state’s climate plan, environmental groups said. .

The deal must be approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission, which meets next Monday.

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