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100% clean energy bill heads to Michigan House

Bill takes two different stances on nuclear energy, depending on the date

The House Energy Committee Wednesday approved Senate Bill 271, which would set a 100% clean energy standard for Michigan’s regulated utilities by 2040. That includes DTE Energy and Consumers Energy.

The bill takes two different stances on nuclear energy, as Sen. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, testified.

Rep. Joey Andrews IV, D-St. Joseph, asked Singh if nuclear was considered clean energy on “day one.”

“Nuclear is squarely included here as a clean energy standard,” Singh said.

Ready to read: Senate Bill 271 of 2023 (The S-3 substitute)

Until 2035, though, the renewable energy standard is what applies. And nuclear is specifically left off the list. The relevant portions of the bill are pictured below:

Senate Bill 271 requires utilities to use 80% clean energy by 2035, and 100% by 2040.

Singh assured his colleagues there are off ramps in the bill.

“We know that we live in a cold state. We need to make sure that our energy is reliable, that it is affordable,” Singh testified. “And so as we looked at the provisions here in 271, we wanted to ensure that there were sufficient points of contact between the Public Service Commission and the utilities that if there was concerns about meeting some of these goals, if there were concerns from myself or other federal players in this space that they were off ramps that would allow for us to be able to address an issue that perhaps MISO (the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which oversees the grid covering Michigan) might bring up, or other federal entities.”

Jason Hayes, the Mackinac Center’s director of energy and environmental policy, calls Senate Bill 271 a “blackout bill.” Hayes testified in opposition to Senate bills 271 through 277.

Hayes’ written testimony to the House energy committee read, in part:

The bills mandate unreliable, increasingly expensive energy sources that will also impose an increasing burden on the natural environment through much greater use of land and metal/mineral resources.

The costs associated with this bill package expose Michigan residents to massive increases in electricity rates, decreasing electricity reliability, and substantial likelihood of extended blackouts. The impacts of increasing costs and decreasing reliability will impact those already living in a state of energy poverty the hardest.

Despite those warnings, near the end of a 90-minute meeting Wednesday, the energy committee passed the bill 10-7. The vote went down party lines, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed.

Senate Bill 271 will head to the full Michigan House. It must pass the House and Senate in identical forms and be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to be enacted into law.

Singh called the bill the codification of Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan.

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.