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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Opinion | It’s time to strengthen renewable energy and efficiency requirements

The air we breathe in Michigan isn’t as pure and clean as it could be — as we’ve witnessed with Canadian wildfires and the onslaught of air quality alert days this summer. Michigan’s asthma rates among children and adults continues to be greater than the national average, with our Black and brown communities shouldering a higher burden.

Laurie Pohutsky, Amos O’Neal
Michigan Speaker Pro Tempore Laurie Pohutsky is a Democrat serving her third term representing the 17th House District, which includes part of Livonia. Rep. Amos O'Neal is a Democrat serving his second term representing the 94th House District, which includes Saginaw.

The power we use isn’t as reliable as our Midwest neighbors — as hundreds of thousands of residents have dealt with outages this summer. The status quo when it comes to energy in our state has produced the highest electricity rates in the Midwest and the worst reliability, according to independent consumer reports.

Pollution from burning coal and gas is a kitchen table issue. Every day we pay the price with our wallets and our health.

These are just some of the reasons why we as elected officials have introduced a robust plan in the Michigan Legislature to:

— Create a 100 percent carbon-free electricity standard by 2035.  

— Expand policies that conserve energy.

— Empower and require the Michigan Public Service Commission to regulate and hold big utilities accountable for equity, health, affordability and climate impacts. 

We owe it to our kids and grandkids to protect them and their futures. The time to act is now.

The historic federal funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, along with the Inflation Reduction Act that passed last year, have made billions of dollars available to our state and the regional grid that services Michigan. That money will flow in the form of tax credits and incentives for residents, communities, non-profits, independent producers and utilities to build out clean, renewable energy.

Our plan builds off Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan by expanding comprehensive energy efficiency programs and setting a clean energy standard — first at 60 percent by 2030 and then 100 percent by 2035. This acceleration is necessary and achievable.

While the utilities make incremental progress on renewable energy — we need this historic and comprehensive plan to move forward, and we need Michigan residents to voice their support.

Already, legislative committees have heard testimony in Lansing on the bills (House Bills 4759, 4760 and 4761/Senate Bills 271, 272 and 273). The Michigan House Energy Reliability, Resilience & Accountability Task Force is holding listening sessions across the state.

We encourage voters to attend the task force listening sessions and share why you believe Michiganders deserve affordable, reliable and clean power. You can contact your Michigan representative and senator and encourage them to support these critical bills to address the climate crisis.

We deserve clean energy to power our homes and businesses. We deserve affordable energy that taps into renewable sources like wind and solar. This will reduce pollution in our air and water and help protect the Great Lakes and future generations of Michiganders.

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