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Renewable energy and reducing energy waste met 25% of the state's electricity needs last year

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Renewable energy combined with reducing energy waste met 25% of the state's electricity needs last year.

That's according to a report from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Renewable sources of electricity include wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and landfill gas. Not all renewable sources are zero-carbon, however.

Energy waste programs include more efficient lighting and appliances, smart thermostats, building weatherization, and technology that cycles air conditioning on and off when demand for electricity is very high. It can also include voluntary manufacturing plant limits on their use of electricity at peak times.

Laura Sherman, head of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, said more reliance on renewables is a sign that the state's ambitious energy goals are good public policy.

"What we're seeing here is what many of us have been saying, that renewable energy and energy waste reduction are really the lowest-cost options for utilities to meet their generation needs," she said.

Sherman said there's an even more ambitious energy standard on the way. State legislators are crafting a bill that could require 50% renewable energy by 2030, and 100% zero-carbon electricity by 2040.

The report also says a record 19,571 customers produced some of their own electricity in 2022 — most with rooftop solar installations.

Sherman said the rising numbers indicates it's time for the state to jettison its 1% cap on rooftop solar participation.

"We're setting these lofty state goals," she said. "We should allow people to also participate on their own houses."

Consumers Energy has voluntarily lifted its cap to 4%, and DTE Energy to 6%.

But the companies also say rooftop solar benefits wealthier customers at the expense of their less affluent neighbors. They maintain that the best way for all customers to benefit from solar is by expanding large-scale solar plant projects — either owned by the utilities, or independent producers.

Consumers Energy and DTE 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.
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