Senators introduce updated energy legislation

Electric reliability and improved planning to be the focus of new energy plan

LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Mike Nofs, chair of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, and Sen. John Proos, vice chair of the committee, on Tuesday unveiled the much-anticipated substitutes for the Michigan Comprehensive Energy Plan.

The two-bill package has been in the works for more than two years and updates key provisions of the state’s current energy laws.

“This legislation represents thousands of hours’ worth of research, discussion and input from numerous individuals, groups and organizations, including the governor, committee members, and the 37-member workgroup I appointed in 2014,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “These bills establish a strong foundation for Michigan’s next-generation energy policy.”

Nofs sponsored Senate Bill 437 and noted that the key components of the bill include a new resource adequacy provision that helps ensure electric reliability and an enhanced Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process. Under the IRP process, future utility investments would be evaluated based on a stricter set of criteria and competitive proposals to ensure greater reliability, adaptability and affordability.

“The public service commission will have more authority to help guide the planning process and ensure that we are getting the best value possible for Michigan ratepayers when it comes to large energy investments,” Nofs said.

Reducing energy waste would continue to be of paramount importance under the new bills. In addition to eliminating the current renewable and energy efficiency mandates, SB 438, sponsored by Proos, includes important upgrades for distributed generation, net-metering, and on-bill financing, as well as a new, 30 percent combined renewable energy and energy waste reduction goal. The package also provides enhanced incentives for utilities that invest in energy waste reduction.

Proos, R-St. Joseph, stressed the focus on removing mandates and allowing the IRP process to determine what investments make the most sense.

“This bill represents a compromise that allows for the most affordable, reliable, renewable energy for the residents of Michigan, while giving them options for the use of new technologies in such a way that makes it fair for all ratepayers,” Proos said. “Michigan ratepayers have helped prime the pump for these new technologies since 2008. Now it’s time for them to compete head-to-head.”

Testimony on the bills will continue this week in the Senate Energy and Technology Committee.