Major General Mike Stone is Commanding General of the 46th Military Police Command, headquartered in Lansing, Michigan. He previously served on the U.S. Army staff in the Pentagon.
In my 32 years in the Army, I have observed triumphs and success in policies, programs and projects. I have observed wicked disagreement over clean energy and coal initiatives and I have observed deep political divisions that did not make sense to me. Today, the national debate over our nation’s clean energy future is escalating and most of the headlines dwell on the disagreement.
Despite this uproar, I think Michigan is a model for consensus, one that shows how all of us can work together to solve our country’s need for a resilient, clean energy economy.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Gov. Rick Snyder and the U.S. Army share a passion for Clean and Reliable Energy. In 2012, Gov. Snyder said that we must make sure our energy choices always recognize our responsibility to protect Michigan’s environment.
In 2015, the U.S. Army said that future efforts must exceed federal (and state) energy, environmental, and sustainability requirements codified in legislation, regulations, presidential (and gubernatorial) mandates, directives and policies. In 2019, Gov. Whitmer said that the state of Michigan must accelerate new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment at the state and federal levels. I see a lot of common ground in energy policy to build upon, and we need to focus on these similarities.
One of our nation’s top priorities is energy security. As far back as 2012, Gov. Snyder pointed out that Michigan has an energy reliability challenge, and all of Michigan became acutely aware of the importance of energy security on Jan. 30, 2019. We were hit with record-low temperatures and everyone across the state was asked to conserve energy due to a natural gas disruption. Gov. Whitmer responded rapidly and called for a review of the supply and deliverability of natural gas, electricity and propane. This review is one of our most immediate opportunities.
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) will soon present Gov. Whitmer its recommendations to improve energy security in our state and in particular to account for changing system conditions and extreme weather events. Enhancing clean energy options — both in Michigan and nationwide — is a solution to prevent similar crises in the future.
Recently, I testified before the Michigan House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee per an invitation from the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, where I outlined a wide range of advanced energy strategies the military is undertaking to strengthen our readiness and keep us energy-secure.
We live in an ever complex and changing world, and I would like to suggest that future energy resiliency projects consider cyber and electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) threats, which can disrupt or damage electronics equipment, transformers, transmission lines and communications systems. Any of these disruptions could deal a serious blow to the U.S. economy.
As Michigan moves forward, I recommend that we consider an outline from the U.S. Army’s Energy Security and Sustainability Strategy. It has five goals:
- make informed decisions (educate);
- optimize use (decrease resource demand);
- assure access (diversify, maximize flexibility in system design and use, and reduce vulnerability and risk);
- build resiliency (foster adaptability);
- drive innovation.
To improve our nation’s and our state’s energy security, we need to deploy science, technology, engineering, operations and expertise to increase resource-effective solutions. Then, we need to expand collaboration efforts and work with industry, academia, and state, local and federal government to develop sustainable and resilient solutions.
With regard to technology, we must be open to emerging clean energy solutions that go beyond the current state of the art. When the recommendations come back from the MPSC, I ask that everyone listen to one another. Keep an open mind to new concepts (as well as some old) and collaborate so Michigan can be a national clean energy and resiliency leader.