Michigan Can Triple Its Use of Renewable Energy at Virtually No Additional Cost

3-13-2014 Michigan Can Triple Its Use of Renewable Energy at Virtually No Additional Cost

Originally published in the Union of Concerned Scientists. To see the full report by Sam Gomberg, go to this link.

With Governor Snyder’s recent announcement of clean energy goals for Michigan, the conversation is quickly developing around the future role of renewable energy in the state. To help inform that conversation, a newly released analysis by my UCS colleagues and me found that Michigan can triple its use of renewable energy — from 10 percent in 2015 to 33 percent in 2030 — at virtually no cost to consumers. Here’s how.

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Keep the renewable energy transition moving

Michigan’s current renewable electricity standard (RES) — which requires utilities to meet 10 percent of the state’s electricity demand with renewable energy resources by 2015 — is a success, but it’s about to level off unless additional policies are put in place to extend it.

Michigan utilities are well on their way towards meeting the full standard, and a discussion has been underway for more than a year about what should come next. That discussion produced a wealth of information about how renewable energy is working right now for Michigan and how there’s potential to do more.

So we decided to take a deeper dive into the data and paint a clearer picture of what Michigan’s energy future might look like if it strengthens its commitment to developing renewable energy resources. Using the Regional Energy Deployment System model developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, we examined the impacts on consumers, the economy, and the environment of three potential scenarios for meeting Michigan’s future electricity demand:

  1. Continuing without policies in place to further drive renewable energy development
  2. Increasing Michigan’s RES to 17.5 percent by the year 2020
  3. Increasing Michigan’s RES to 32.5 percent by the year 2030

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