In 2008 Michigan lawmakers approved a requirement for 10 percent of the state's power to come from renewable sources by the end of 2015. Utilities are on pace to likely hit that target, but it's unclear what the state's energy policy will be going forward. A bipartisan group of lawmakers hope the upcoming energy policy discussion will led to fewer barriers for individuals and small groups to produce and sell green power.
Streamlining Michigan's net-metering rules, letting individuals and businesses invest cooperatively in renewable energy systems, and developing a smart grid are among the measures in the energy freedom package of bills.
They were introduced by two Republicans and two Democrats in the state house, including Jeff Irwin from Ann Arbor. The 53rd District Democrat says his bill makes sure individuals or co-ops can sell extra electricity they produce. "Utilities are really the gate keepers both for whether you can sell that power and how much you're going to get for it. This law basically says you're going to get a market price and they're going to buy your power," Irwin says.
D-T-E Energy spokesman Scott Simons says the company's primary goal will be a policy that works for everyone in the state. "Certainly wants to make sure that customers benefiting from the system aren't being subsidized by customers who aren't," Simons says.
Simons says the utility is already spending over $600 million a year making a more reliable grid, with a particular focus on areas that have frequently experienced outages.
Irwin expects the energy policy discussion will come to the forefront in Lansing in the spring. In addition to promoting green energy he hopes the policy will focus on energy efficiency measures to reduce the amount of power the state uses.