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New energy bills speed up the timeline for no coal, 100% renewable electricity

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
DTE says it will shut down both units of the Monroe Power Plant by 2035. But a bill introduced in the Michigan State Senate would speed up that timeline by five years.

Michigan would move more swiftly toward decarbonizing energy production under energy bills introduced by Democratic lawmakers.

State Senator Sue Shink said one bill in the package would require utilities to stop using coal by 2030. That's five years earlier than DTE Energy had planned.

Another bill would set a 100% renewable energy goal for the state by 2035. Shink said it's an ambitious but not impossible goal.

"Climate change is causing catastrophic weather events in Michigan," she said. "It's already impacting our state and so we're going to work very hard to make these things happen."

Another bill would allow the Michigan Public Service Commission to explicitly consider climate change as a factor in its decisions on utility cases.

"We want to make sure the MPSC can help us reach our climate goals," said Shink.

Charlotte Jameson with the Michigan Environmental Council said the legislation is extremely timely. That's because the federal Inflation Reduction Act will be driving renewables to what she calls "rock bottom prices."

"And so the more that we can get our utilities to aggressively transition to renewable energy, the better we're going to be doing in terms of reining in cost spikes," she said.

In a statement, DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Jerry Norcia said the utility looks forward to working with the state Legislature to implement key elements of the Governor's MI Healthy Climate Plan.

"As the largest investor in renewable energy in Michigan, we are well positioned to facilitate the economy-wide decarbonization that the Governor's plan envisions," he said.

In its statement, Consumers Energy said it will work with the Michigan Public Service Commission, policymakers and others who share its commitment to delivering "world-class performance to our customers in a clean, reliable and affordable way."

"Actions matter, which is why we recently announced a sweeping proposal to stop using coal as a fuel source for electricity by 2025 —15 years faster than currently planned. Our Clean Energy Plan would make the company one of the first in the nation to go coal-free and calls for a significant buildout of solar, storage, and energy efficiency investment. "

Democratic lawmakers say the energy bills that were introduced will be followed by others to further move Michigan's energy policies forward.

Editor's note: DTE and Consumers Energy are among Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.