MichiganVotes Bills

Michigan House, Senate pass 100% clean energy bill

‘Reliability and affordability is going to explode,’ one lawmaker warns

A bill that will require Michigan’s utilities to run on 100% clean energy by 2040 has passed both houses of the Legislature. Now they must pass identical forms of the bill before it heads to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.

Whitmer’s signature is not in doubt; multiple lawmakers have described Senate Bill 271 as the codification of Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan, the teeth behind the plan.

But Jason Hayes, the Mackinac Center’s director of energy and environmental policy, warns that darker, colder winters are on the horizon as Michigan’s energy supply becomes more costly and less reliable.

Read it for yourself: Senate Bill 271 of 2023

“The renewable energy plan proposed in the SB 271-277 bill package will impose additional costs of $124.3 billion on the state through 2035 – increasing to $385.7 billion through 2050 – and would lead to extensive shortfalls in electric capacity,” Hayes testified.

“Modeling predicts extended electric system instability and blackouts as long as 61 hours during the winter months of January and February,” Hayes added.

After back-to-back storms in February and March, energy reliability was a hot topic for Michigan lawmakers. They hauled the leaders DTE Energy before the House and Senate energy committees to explain the company’s failure.

Those power outages owed to distribution problems. When trees hit power lines, power can’t make it from the plant to the end user.

Senate Bill 271 does nothing to stop Michigan’s energy distribution problem. Hayes warns it will create an energy generation problem on top of it, as wind and solar power are not reliable in the way coal and natural gas are. Michigan will retire its final coal plant in 2032.

“Electric producers and grid regulators at the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, PJM, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and others are loudly warning that the North American electric grid, including Michigan’s electric grid, is becoming increasingly unstable,” Hayes wrote.

And that’s before the bill passed.

“This radical plan will ban natural gas, close power plants, and depend too much on fluctuating, unreliable wind and solar energy — and let Gov. Whitmer’s administration ignore local decisions and force wind and solar farms in rural Michigan communities to make their blackout nightmare a reality,” said Rep. Matt Hall, R-Richland Township.

Hall is the Republican Floor Leader in the House.

“To make matters worse, utility companies will push the costs of shutting down plants and installing experimental energy equipment onto their customers — nearly doubling monthly electric bills,” Hall added.

While natural gas is included in the bill, it is subject to a 90% carbon capture requirement. Critics say this is impractical and amounts to an effective ban on natural gas.

“Sequestration is not even an option for us up there,” Rep. David Prestin, R-Upper Peninsula, said as Sen. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, testified before the House committee this week. “Reliability and affordability is going to explode in my neck of the woods.”

“As we’ve talked with the Public Service Commission and with others, there is a belief that there is a path forward in the Upper Peninsula with the standards that we’ve put forward,” Singh responded.

Senate Bill 271 takes two different stances on nuclear energy, depending on the date. Prior to 2035, nuclear is not considered a renewable energy resource. But after 2035, it counts toward a clean energy portfolio.

In a statement, Rep. Pat Outman, R-Six Lakes, said the bill’s timeline is unrealistic.

“One study estimates a 96% increase in consumer rates and a 142% increase in commercial rates under the Democrats’ proposed timeline,” Outman’s statement read.

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.