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Michigan governor's Wednesday policy speech likely to include call for 100% clean energy mandate

gretchen whitmer
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

In a departure from tradition, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer plans a major policy speech on Wednesday, outlining new goals for the state in addition to those she outlined at her January, 2023 State of the State address.

She is expected to call for a 100% clean energy standard for Michigan, although it's not clear if she has set a target of 2035 for the standard. She previously issued by executive order a proposal for Michigan to attain economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050.

Legislation that would set the stage for many components of a clean energy standard has already been introduced in the state Legislature.

But the process of modifying the bills and getting them passed will require the input of many stakeholders, including utilities, business, and environmental groups, according to Ed Rivet, Executive Director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum.

He likened the process to "herding cats," and said there is not agreement even among Democratic lawmakers on the best approach.

'I don't think the governor's naive in understanding that this is going to be a complex and delicate dance but (that's) not to downplay the importance of the governor indicating quite publicly 'here’s what I’d like to see get done," Rivet said.

Rivet also expects Whitmer to call for legislation that would remove local government control over the wind and solar permitting process.

He said many local governments in Michigan are under pressure to issue moratoriums on wind and solar projects from residents who he said are being misinformed by anti-clean energy groups.

The state won't be able to achieve the governor's ambitious goals, he said, unless these local roadblocks to more renewable energy developments are eliminated.

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.
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