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Politics & Government

Complex energy package would address renewables, regulations and reliability

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The new legislation would mandate 15% of Michigan's electricity come from renewable sources.

Last week, amid the frenzy that followed the presidential election, the Michigan Senate passed a pair of bills that would mean a dramatic overhaul of Michigan’s energy policy. The bills, which still have to make it through the Michigan House of Representatives, would be the first new energy policy in Michigan since 2008.

We spoke with Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief, about the new legislation. He told us that, although the two bills both had bipartisan support and passed by wide margins, they also have detractors.

While the package would create a new renewable energy mandate of 15%, to be met by the year 2022, environmentalists have questioned the way the legislation defines renewable energy. According to Pluta, some fear that the burning of abandoned tires to generate electricity could be counted toward that renewable energy mandate.

On the other hand, a number of free-market Republicans in the Senate and House believe the policy represents an excessive limitation on competition. Under current law, no more than 10% of a utility’s retail sales can be replaced by alternative electricity suppliers — competitors. The new legislation maintains that 10% limit.

“This is considered a very utility-friendly package,” Pluta told us.

Listen to our full interview with Rick Pluta above.

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