Last week, the Michigan Senate passed an energy package that requires utilities to increase their percentage of renewable energy sources by 50% by 2021 and strangle the last remaining remnants of competition!
State energy policy was last overhauled in 2008 when the utilities successfully lobbied to lower the electric choice market from 100 percent to only 10 percent. In exchange for reverting back to a 90% monopolized market, DTE and Consumers Energy accepted a renewable energy mandate of 10 percent supported by then-Governor Jennifer Granholm and legislative Democrats.
In this most recent legislative action, Republicans required support from Democrats in order to secure the votes necessary for final passage. Thanks to the relentless efforts by DTE and Consumers Energy and their legislative partners like Senator Mike Nofs to kill electric choice and raise rates on all Michiganders, Senate Republicans shamefully agreed to an increase in this Granholm Era mandate from 10% to 15%.
According to MLive, "Republicans initially had shied away from mandates, but the bills passed Thursday would require utilities to hit a benchmark for 12.5 percent renewable energy in 2021 and get to 15 percent by 2022. In addition, there is a goal -- but not a requirement -- to get to 35 percent renewable energy by 2025."
State lawmakers have been complicit in rigging the energy sector in favor of utilities and increasing costs on ratepayers. Instead of being able to choose the energy provider of their choice, 90 percent of ratepayers are required to use a government-enabled energy monopoly.
Many opponents of this energy bill package worry that the electric choice market won't last long under the new legislation.
Here's more from MLive:
[Senators] turned down an amendment from Rep. Pete MacGregor, R-Rockford, which would have addressed some concerns from the community advocating energy choice.
Without it groups like Energy Choice Now opposed the Senate's final product.
"All Michigan ratepayers were thrown under the bus today by Senate leadership, forcing a vote on a bill that will increase costs on ALL ratepayers," said Energy Choice Now Executive Director Wayne Kuipers.
"Since the state Senate refused to stand up for Michigan schools, universities, community colleges, hospitals, faith communities, grocers and iconic companies like Kellogg, Pfizer and US Steel, we will join them in looking to Representatives in the Michigan House for relief from legislation that only benefits Consumers Energy and DTE Energy -- and their Wall Street investors."
The Michigan Schools Energy Cooperative also opposed the bills.
"We are shocked and disappointed that so many Michigan State Senators would choose to support SB 437 which will eliminate considerable electric choice savings for schools," said spokesman TJ Bucholz.
"Schools are at the mercy of corporate utilities who can dictate their costs for electricity - a major budgetary cost center for schools across Michigan."
The bills passed with bipartisan support, but met opposition from a small collection of Republicans. SB 437 passed 26-11 and SB 438 passed 27-10.
The bills now head to the state House where we will continue to oppose Senate Bills 437 and 438. Ratepayers deserve a strong electric choice market and relief from high electric bills.