Michigan’s coming energy crisis will be man-made

Michigan’s energy transition is a bait-and-switch move away from reliable energy

There exist enough resources to provide the 10 million people of our state the energy they need. What Michigan lacks is the political will to insist on reliable energy, preferring instead weather-dependent sources such as wind and solar. Michigan’s coming energy crisis will be man-made.

The resources of the future — said to be wind and solar — are not ready, while one of today’s energy sources, coal, is demonized and pushed to a premature retirement.

In Michigan’s energy transition, coal is portrayed as Public Enemy No. 1. The quicker we can all move past coal, the conventional wisdom says, the better. That’s why only one coal plant will be operating here after 2028.

But state officials aren’t sure the coal rollback will make a difference.

Last year, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy released its “MI Healthy Climate Plan.” The plan admits:

In the electric sector, there is no automatic guarantee that retiring coal facilities and increasing use of other electric generation assets – current or future – will benefit Michigan communities.

    It’s rare to see such an admission offered publicly. EGLE is saying that even if Michigan conducts the immediate transition green energy advocates wish for, there’s no promise it will work. The natural next question is, why do it?

    This is Michigan energy policy in the 2020s: “No automatic guarantee” that its tactics will work, but let’s rush in headlong anyway.

    Four of Michigan’s top-10 energy generating facilities are coal-powered, according to 2021 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    After 2028 only one, Monroe, will be running.

      EGLE predicts that by 2030, or two years later, Michigan will need infrastructure to support two million electric vehicles.

      Ask yourself: How many windmills and solar panels are needed to replace the energy now generated by coal? And have you seen anything to indicate efforts of that scale are underway?

      Michigan’s energy transition is really a bait-and-switch move away from reliable energy and toward weather-dependent energy. There exist the resources to reliably power every home and business in Michigan. Where is the political will?

      Michigan’s representatives in Lansing and Washington have used their station to push “net-zero” energy policies.

      As Michigan residents are saddled with more costly, less-reliable energy, its utility companies play along.

      In 2021, Consumers Energy admitted that its renewable energy plan could leave ... well, consumers ... without power for long stretches of time.

      In testimony to the Michigan Public Service Commission, Sara T. Walz, an engineering analyst for Consumers, wrote:

      The results of the electric supply reliability studies show that dependence on so many intermittent sources of generation results in significant periods of time for which the potential loss of load may occur.

      Translation: When state officials and utilities move Michigan to less-reliable forms of energy, residents will find their energy is less reliable.

      Meanwhile, Consumers’ counterpart, DTE Energy, hopes that its peak-hour pricing plan will head off some excessive demand, before reliability becomes an obvious problem. Peak-hour pricing will start in March.

      DTE’s peak-hour plan will bring Michigan’s energy prices to the cusp of California’s. Perhaps EV users will remember to wait a few hours after work to recharge, to avoid the upcharge.

      Don’t fall for the okeydoke on Michigan’s energy transition. The choice Michigan faces is not between energy that’s reliable and dirty and energy that’s reliable and clean.

      The choice Michigan faces is this: Do you want power on the coldest and hottest days of the year, or not?

      James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email him at

      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.