News Story

Renewable Energy Advocate Falsely Claims Industry is not Supported by Taxpayer Dollars

Michigan issues numerous incentives

An advocate of renewable energy claimed in a recent Detroit News op-ed that Michigan does not subsidize "clean energy." Dan Scripps, president of an industry trade association called the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, wrote: “It is important to clear up another point: Michigan does not subsidize renewable energy. Clean energy, including wind and solar, receives no subsidies from the state of Michigan.”

The claim is contradicted by several sources.

Research from the “North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center” tracks financial "incentives" that promote renewable energy offered by local, state and federal municipalities as well as utilities. According to the research, which is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Michigan offers a number of direct and indirect subsidies to the industry. These include:

  • Four state-administered programs that offer incentives to manufacturers of renewable energy equipment.
  • Three loan programs.
  • Two programs that give out cash grants.
  • One program that gives property tax breaks to manufacturers of renewable systems.

In addition there are seven rebate programs offered to manufacturers administered by utilities in the state. Michigan has also offered other large subsidies to companies in the “clean energy” industry, including some of the country’s biggest failures.

For example:

  • Evergreen Solar, which made solar power products, was awarded a $1.9 million “refundable tax credit” (often cash grants) in 2008 by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
  • United Solar Ovonics, which developed technology for solar cells, was awarded refundable tax credits worth $6.1 million in 2005, another $5.7 million in tax credits in 2006 and $24.4 million in tax credits in 2008 by the MEDC.

Both Evergreen Solar and United Solar Ovonics went bankrupt. Meanwhile, solar cell maker Hemlock Semiconductor in Midland is still benefiting from large electricity rate discounts subsidized by higher bills that other business and residential utility customers in its service area are forced to pay.

And according to the website of the state agency that that gives special subsidies, Michigan is still issuing breaks for "renewable" energy companies.

The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council did not respond to an email seeking comment from Scripps.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.