The Energy Debate in Michigan

Rowe: Government stacks deck against renewable energy

The Detroit News, March 24, 2015

Gov. Rick Snyder recently gave an address on energy and, as expected, his approach included market-based solutions, the notion that the market should take care of renewable energy development. As a professor of renewable energy and energy management for more than 30 years, I know this is not the case. As a user of renewable energy for decades, I know first-hand and have taught thousands how to harness this clean, affordable way to power our lives.

In our skewed market structure, the deck is stacked against the renewable energy industry. The government gives large incentives to the fossil fuel industry that exceed what is given to renewable energy, according to the Energy Information Administration. Taxpayers are left holding the bill for the damage to our health and environment when these government-bankrolled fossil fuels are burned. Meanwhile, renewables create more jobs without the costly health impacts of fossil fuel-based pollution.

This year, a huge debate over energy has hit Michigan, and the utilities are supporting false arguments from front groups like Citizens for Michigan’s Energy Future. Making minimal investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy is not enough to keep Michigan afloat. Their intention is to replace our aging coal fleet with natural gas. While natural gas emits less harmful gases than coal, it still belongs on the list for bad, polluting fuels. We should not simply swap one fossil fuel for another, and the governor should mandate this.

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