Governor's carbon neutral target likely to change utilities' long range plans | Michigan Radio
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Governor's carbon neutral target likely to change utilities' long range plans

Sep 27, 2020

A solar array. Energy analysts say Michigan, cloudy as it is, could obtain a significant amount of energy from large-scale solar projects.
Credit Consumers Energy

The Michigan Public Service Commission says it will update state requirements for long range plans submitted by electric utilities.

The agency is asking stakeholders to submit recommendations for how these plans, known as Integrated Resource Plans, or IRPs, should change to help meet the governor's new target of carbon neutrality by the year 2050.

Carbon neutrality means on balance, no new carbon dioxide emissions are added to the atmosphere, through a combination of carbon emissions reductions and carbon offsetting, via things like planting forests and other carbon capture projects.

Margrethe Kearney is with the Environmental Law and Policy Center.  She says asking utilities to consider carbon emissions as pollution is a significant change from the state's traditional focus on energy bill costs for customers, and reliability. She says that overlooked other costs from climate change.

"Flooding, extreme weather events. extreme heat, erosion. These are all costs of the choices that we're making, that utilities are making,  in terms of how they provide energy," says Kearney.

Electricity from utilities accounts for about 27% of U.S. carbon emissions.