Michigan Democrats ready to test ambitious environmental goals in the industrial Midwest


LANSING, Michigan (AP) - michigan The state is on the verge of implementing one of the nation's most ambitious clean energy mandates, aiming to be carbon-free by 2040, a key test of Democrats' environmental goals in a state with a long-standing manufacturing legacy.

Michigan will join four other states Utility providers are required to transition to 100% carbon-free energy generation by 2040 under legislation that will soon be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The state has also set a target for utilities to generate 50% of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. A significant jump from the current 12%.

State-level mandates support this Biden administration goals A carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy before 2050.

The clean energy package, which was approved by Democrats in the Michigan Legislature this month, has been praised by environmental groups. Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, said she hopes Michigan's plan will serve as a model for other states.

“Michigan is at the heart of the industrial Midwest. "What happens here sets the stage for what can happen across the country," Wozniak said.

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Michigan ranked 11th nationwide in electricity consumption in 2021, the majority of which comes from coal, natural gas and motor gasoline. Most of the 12% produced through renewable sources last year came from wind blowing across the Great Lakes.

A resource that naturally replenishes over time and is derived from solar, water or wind energy is considered renewable. Clean energy under the package also includes renewable sources along with nuclear power and natural gas. Natural gas can only be used if utilities capture and store carbon emissions.

Meeting the 50% renewable energy goal by 2030 and 60% five years later will require massive build-out of utility-scale renewable energy resources in Michigan.

According to Dan Scripps, chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission, more than 17,000 acres (6,880 ha) of land in the state are currently used for wind and solar energy production. Scripps told lawmakers during a November 7 committee hearing that projects would need an additional 209,000 acres (84,579 hectares) of land to meet the 60% renewable energy goal.

To achieve this, Michigan lawmakers plan to give the state Public Service Commission the authority to replace local governments in approving these large projects.

This provision has quickly become the most controversial element of the package. A local government coalition, including the Michigan Association of Counties, is strongly opposed, with the Michigan Township Association arguing that it suppresses input from local officials and residents in the communities where these facilities are slated to operate for the next several decades.

The public reaction to Democrats' ambitious energy plan could have wide-ranging implications for the party in 2024. Michigan was an important component of this. The Democrats' "Blue Wall" that also includes wisconsin And Pennsylvania and it helped Joe Biden win the White House in 2020.

The clean energy plan only became possible last year after Michigan Democrats reversed both chambers of the Legislature, taking over power in the Governor's office to win complete control of the state government for the first time in four decades.

The package will also increase energy efficiency requirements and increase the cap on rooftop solar power from 1% to 10% of each utility's five-year average peak load.

Connecticut, New York, Oregon and Minnesota all share Michigan's timeline of becoming carbon-free by 2040, while Rhode Island According to the Clean Energy States Alliance, the government has set a target of using 100% renewable energy by 2033.

Questions remain about how good it is mandate will work And whether states will adhere to the timelines. Michigan law includes a provision that allows extensions on the requirements if "good cause" is shown.

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