Lansing, Mich., Jan. 19 — The future of wind farms and factories in Michigan will take center stage at the AWEA State Wind Energy Forum – Michigan on Tuesday. Michigan state senators John Proos and Hoon-Yung Hopgood headline the day-long event that includes more than 20 Michigan community and business leaders trading perspectives and policy ideas helping to continue to invest in the state’s abundant renewable resource.
Tuesday’s forum arrives at the right time with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder reconfirming his support for renewable energy, acknowledging wind power’s growth saying “Michigan is a pretty solid wind state today” at the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Thursday.
“With more than $2 billion in capital investment and up to 3,000 well-paying jobs, Michigan communities know what’s possible with wind,” said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan. “This is an opportunity for community leaders to figure out how the state can add another chapter to wind’s success story.”
Michigan workers build towers, blades and other wind-related parts at 33 factories across the state. Over 20 Michigan wind farms generate enough power for more than 230,000 homes. Billions of dollars in added capital investment are at stake since there’s enough wind resource potential in the Great Lake State to meet 163 percent of its current electricity needs.
This Tuesday’s forum at the Kellogg Center features a Corporate Purchasers panel moderated by OwnEnergy CEO Jacob Susman includes representatives from Dow Corning, Steelcase and General Motors Global Renewable Energy Manager Rob Threlkeld.
“Investing in renewable energy makes good business sense and we’re committed to it,” said Threlkeld. “It’s an important element in meeting our carbon commitment and sustainability goals while at the same time helps us manage volatile energy costs.”
Including General Motors, over 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies have goals for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and/or a greenhouse gas reduction. IKEA, Mars, Google, Facebook and Microsoft all recently entered into long-term contracts for hundreds of megawatts of wind energy.
Michigan’s leading utilities including DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and MECA will review the benefits of adding wind energy to the state’s energy mix during a Michigan Utilities’ Perspectives panel. DTE Energy, the largest utility in Michigan, has cited renewable energy, including wind power, as one the reasons it has been able to keep electricity rates low.
"Michigan utilities have done a good job of meeting Michigan’s RPS," said Beth Soholt, Executive Director of Wind on the Wires. "Constructing or purchasing wind energy provides a hedge against future increases in the price of fossil fuels such as natural gas, and is a cost effective way to achieve large reductions in carbon emissions. All indications are that Michigan utilities will continue to add wind energy to their portfolios and I look forward to the conversation with utility panelists at AWEA’s wind forum."
Just this month, in announcing a new Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Michigan’s Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative said it was “very pleased to be adding competitively priced wind energy to its power supply portfolio for its members.”
Across a wide region of the country that includes Michigan, consumers saved $1 billion over just two days because of fixed-price wind power during 2014’s polar vortex event according to a newly released report by AWEA. While other power plants failed during last year’s extreme cold or faced skyrocketing prices for fuel, wind energy continued producing electricity as expected with zero fuel cost.
Wind energy’s costs have dropped more than 50 percent over the past five years. DTE Energy cited wind’s lower costs for updating its renewable energy plan in 2013, reporting the change would result in $90 million in savings for consumers.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, its first-ever draft rule aimed designed to reduce carbon pollution at existing power plants while maintaining an affordable, reliable energy system, and a potential significant driver of new wind farms, will be discussed. The panel will feature EPA Administrator for Region 10 Susan Hedman.
Michigan wind farms already help the state avoid 1.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or enough to take more than 260,000 cars off the road. Wind farms nationally avoid the equivalent of reducing power sector emissions by more than 5 percent, or enough to take 20 million cars off the road.
Michigan’s state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) sets a target of 10 percent renewable energy by 2015. Michigan successfully integrated wind as the renewable resource used to fulfill up to 86 percent of state RPS requirements through 2011.
Continuing to invest in Michigan’s abundant wind resources will help keep the U.S. on a path to a more balanced energy portfolio.
Currently U.S. wind farms generate enough power for 18 million American homes or close to five percent. A presentation by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind & Water Program Manager Jose Zayas on Tuesday morning will preview the DOE’s new report, Wind Vision.
Wind Vision will show wind is on track to double by 2020, then double again by 2030 to provide the U.S. with 20 percent of its electricity. A brochure previewing Wind Vision shows that growth would equal billions of dollars of added private investment in communities, annual landowner lease payments and consumer benefits.
AWEA’s Michigan state fact sheet can be found here: http://bit.ly/1BRnVFf.