New Michigan law strengthens energy efficiency, clean energy standards

by Brianna Crandall — January 18, 2017 — In a piece of good news for clean energy, the Michigan legislature passed two sweeping bills in December, on the last day of its end-of-year “lame duck” session, and Governor Rick Snyder signed them both. The legislation extends and improves both the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

The EERS bill, SB 438, officially endorses and extends the state’s 1% annual energy savings requirement for utilities through 2021. It also removes the existing cap on energy efficiency program spending, adds tiered incentives to encourage utilities to exceed 1.5% annual savings, and increases the previous RPS requirement for renewable electricity from 10% to 15%.

This accomplishment is particularly noteworthy and encouraging, because both chambers of the Michigan legislature are dominated by the GOP, and Governor Snyder is a Republican as well, according to a blog post from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Snyder had previously announced his support, saying the new legislation will “save Michigan residents millions of dollars on their electric bills” and “find new ways to use our existing energy grid more efficiently.”

Several other Midwest states like Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin with similar political lineups have recently experienced setbacks to clean energy policy, points out ACEEE; moreover, the original legislative proposals in Michigan last year called for eliminating the EERS and the RPS policies, under a call to “end the mandates.”

ACEEE credits the turnaround in part to the clean energy elements of the legislation being part of a complex compromise package of energy policy reforms involving electric reliability and customer access to independent electricity suppliers. But the group says an impressive and diverse collection of parties deserves credit, including a coalition of environmental and clean energy advocates, major corporations supporting energy efficiency, key conservative groups in Michigan, and support from the governor’s office, with the legislative leadership on both sides of the aisle showing “good faith willingness” to negotiate a positive bipartisan package.

ACEEE hopes this recently completed process and successful outcome for clean energy policies in Michigan will be a good example for state and federal action in 2017 and beyond.

For more blog posts or information on national, state and local energy efficiency policies, visit the ACEEE Web site.