Michigan’s plan for energy transition: Leap before it looks

Energy transition fails to consider trade-offs, unreliability of renewable sources

Leaping before you look is how tragedies happen. Yet when it comes to Michigan’s transition from reliables to renewables in the energy market, that’s the plan.

Michigan’s energy transition is being carried out with messianic zeal, not a weighing of risks and trade-offs. With one-party Democratic rule, Official Michigan is an echo chamber, where leaders are rushing headlong into the future, whether or not the future is ready.

Senate Bill 271 requires Michigan energy companies to hold 100% renewable energy portfolios by 2035. That’s up from 11% in 2021.

The bill specifically puts nuclear energy off-limits until 2035.

“Renewable energy resource does not include petroleum, nuclear, natural gas, or coal,” the bill reads.

That changes in 2035.

“A renewable energy plan starting in 2035 credits approved nuclear energy toward the clean energy requirement or renewable portfolio plan,” the bill reads.

What makes nuclear energy dirty in 2034 and clean in 2035? Politics.

This is a way for the green energy people to give themselves an out. In 2035, something will have to power Michigan’s homes and businesses. Inclusion of nuclear is as good as an admission that wind and solar are not that thing.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer does not approach nuclear energy with the ambivalence of Senate Bill 271; she has embraced it. Whitmer went to bat to get a West Michigan nuclear plant, Palisades, the federal funding it needs to reopen.

It took two tries, but federal officials — including former Michigan governor now U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm — eventually softened their hearts toward Palisades.

Whitmer believes there should be two million electric vehicles on Michigan roads by 2030.

The road from 17,500 EVs in Michigan in 2021 to two million in 2030 will be paved with taxpayer money.

This includes $150 million for electric school buses or $65 million for charging resources or $48 million in sales and use tax abatements for EV buyers. All of these appear on her 2024 budget wishlist. That doesn’t include the federal support for charging resources and $7,500 tax credits for most EV buyers.

Even if Whitmer succeeds, she and Granholm will be competing with each other for the same finite pool of minerals. At a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week, Granholm envisioned an all-EV military fleet by 2030.

The federal government, the U.S. military, every blue state and every automaker will be seeking massive amounts of electric vehicles, all at the same time. This will raise the cost of the rare minerals needed to produce EV batteries, and this will enrich China.

When you hear the word “EVs” or “solar panels,” you should also hear the word China, because that’s who we’ll buy the materials from.

Relying on China for Prius batteries is one thing; relying on it to power Jeeps and tanks is quite another. The Granholm plan would elevate the minerals shortage from a problem for consumers and car-buyers to a matter of national security.

From Lansing to Washington to the military, the green energy transition lacks sobriety and thoughtfulness.

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.