Thursday, July 24, 2008

House Dems Put Renewable Portfolio Standard Back to 10%

Should have raised it to 25%, but given the Senate Republicans deliberate refusal to listen to every expert in this business as well as overwhelming public demand, we will have to take what we can get. From the House Dems-

The House plan approved today requires that the state gradually increase the amount of electricity that comes from renewable sources such as wind and biomass, reaching 10 percent by 2015. The Senate plan, in contrast, sets this Renewable Portfolio Standard at just 7 percent – a level that analysts agree is too low to cause renewable energy job providers to seriously consider making major investments in Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Press was the latest paper to agree that the Senate version is not acceptable.

The Republican Senate bill's 7 percent goal falls far short of what's needed. The 7 percent figure includes efficiency measures and a new power-producing procedure known as coal gasification. That makes this plan the near beer of alternative energy solutions, weaker than laws enacted in most every other state.

Michigan is badly behind the renewable curve. Every one of our midwest neighbors, with the exception of Indiana, has enacted a renewable portfolio standard. In all, 26 states have some form of an RPS -- states as politically, demographically and economically diverse as Texas and California, Oregon and Minnesota.

The Oakland Press features quotes from the experts when they called for Michigan to join "the RPS bandwagon".

James Clift, policy director with the Michigan Environmental Council, praised adoption of House Bill 5525, which would mandate that utilities get 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015, compared to the current 4.6 percent. However, Clift was critical of Senate Bill 213, which claims to raise the standard to 7 percent but, Clift says, actually "produces nothing."

HB 5525 would put Michigan "in the middle of the pack" in terms of the 26 states that have renewable portfolio standards, while SB 213 "wouldn't even put Michigan in the game," said Hugh McDiarmid, spokesman for the environmental council.

Martin Kushler, utilities program director with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, said the renewable portfolio standards issue has been "very strongly bipartisan in other states."

Nancy Cassis stuck her fingers in her ears and went, "la la la, I can't hear you!" and brings up foreclosures, of all things, proving that the Senate has to stoop to irrelevant points to defend their undefendable position.

"Consumers always bear the costs" when mandates are placed on businesses, Cassis said. "We're mindful of passing on such costs. It wouldn't help Michigan," she said of the House version. "The economy is in such a precarious situation. We don't need more foreclosures."

Oooookay. All the jobs and money will go to places like Pennsylvania instead, where they are just giddy about mandates, so much so they are going to build manufacturing plants there and create a boatload of jobs.

Mass Megawatts Wind Power, Inc. announced last week that the company has recently opened a manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania. The new facility will be located near numerous planned projects in Pennsylvania and New York where several hundred megawatts (MW) of wind power projects have already been developed in the recent years.

Mass Megawatts has chosen to locate a production facility in Pennsylvania because of the state's dedication and leadership in the field of renewable energy, including wind power. Pennsylvania has enough wind power potential to provide electricity for nearly 5 million homes according to Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. Pennsylvania's green power purchase is 28% of the state government's annual electricity consumption.

That is just one example. Want another? Texas is going to invest $5 billion towards bringing wind power in the western part of the state onto the grid. Wonder how many jobs that will create. More proof? California is increasing solar power by installing panels on 150 commercial rooftops, and Southern California Edison is going to build the largest photovoltaic plant in California. Republican Governor Schwarzenegger wants to hit 33% by 2020. The civilized world moves on.

Looks like our Republicans are going to continue to stick their heads in the coal mine and throw lame excuses to the wind (no pun intended but it works) and stall on this as much as they can, costing Michigan jobs and investment by the day. Gongwer tells us that the energy bills are going to conference, and since it appears the Senate will be taking August off, votes may not come until September. By that time they probably will come up with their next lame excuse because they won't want anything "good" to happen before the election.

Place your bets.