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Michigan Approves Energy Bills

November 14, 2016

This past week, the Michigan Senate passed two energy bills. The first, energy choice bill SB 437, passed by a 26-10 vote and would limit retail choice providers that supply 10 percent of Michigan’s electricity customers. Currently, 10 percent of customers can use a third-party electricity supplier instead of the utility. In addition, the mandate stipulates that providers would have to secure electricity supply two years in advance or generate their own electricity. Supporters argue that the bill will provide stability when the region faces generation shortfalls. Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the grid operator for the Midwest, a few southern states, and Manitoba, Canada, warned that such shortfalls could hit in 2018. Opponents, on the contrary, worry that the bill will threaten the retail market. They also think that reliability concerns are overblown. Officials are already planning to ensure electricity capacity three years in advance.

The second measure, SB 438, approved by a 26-11 vote, would raise the state’s renewable standard from 10 percent to 12.5 percent by 2021 and 15 percent in 2022. Michigan last overhauled its energy policy in 2008, when it stipulated that utilities needed to get 10 percent of their energy from renewables by 2015. The measure also outlines voluntary, future goal of 35 percent. Clean energy advocates praised the bill.