Senators introduce energy legislation

Clean energy and improved planning to be the focus of new energy plan


LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Mike Nofs, chair of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, and Sen. John Proos, vice chair of the committee, on Wednesday announced the release of the much-anticipated Michigan Clean Energy Plan.

The two-bill package has been in the works for more than a year and updates key provisions of the state’s current energy laws.

“This legislation represents hundreds of hours’ worth of research, discussion and input from numerous individuals, groups and organizations, including the governor, committee members, and the 37-member workgroup I appointed last year,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “These bills represent a starting point for a thorough committee process that will ultimately help us craft the best policy to respond to a rapidly changing landscape for energy.”

Nofs sponsored Senate Bill 437 and noted that a major thrust of the bill would be the revamping of the current Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process into a more robust planning and spending authorization tool whereby future utility investments would be evaluated based on a stricter set of criteria to ensure greater reliability, adaptability and affordability.

“The commission would have more authority to help guide the planning process and help ensure that we are getting the best value possible for Michigan ratepayers when it comes to large energy investments,” Nofs said.

Reducing energy waste would continue to be of paramount importance under the new bills, with a requirement that any utility IRP include details regarding the company’s plans to reduce energy waste.

SB 438, sponsored by Proos, would call for the elimination of the current renewable and energy efficiency mandates as well as important upgrades for distributed generation, net metering, and on-bill financing. Proos stressed the focus on removing mandates and allowing the IRP process to determine what investments make the most sense.

“I don’t think the Legislature should be involved in picking winners and losers,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Instead we should establish the goal of having cleaner sources of electric generation that reduce emissions, and then let the process determine which options best meet our needs. Michigan ratepayers have helped prime the pump for these new technologies since 2008. Now it’s time for them to compete head-to-head.”

The bills have been referred to the Senate Energy and Technology Committee where hearings are expected to begin this month.