Wind association endorses Michigan RPS hike

A national association dedicated to the growth of wind power has backed a Michigan ballot question that would hike the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 25% by 2025.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said it has endorsed the Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs ballot proposal, which will be before the voters on Nov. 6.

“A wind turbine has more than 8,000 parts that can be built in Michigan,” said Rob Gramlich, AWEA’s senior vice president for public policy and a Michigan native. “More than 30 states across the nation have renewable energy standards similar to Michigan’s ballot proposal. They are creating jobs in their local communities as well as clean, homegrown power. If these states can do it, Michigan can, too.”

Some utilities in the state and industrial users have come out against the ballot proposal, saying the power companies are already well on their way to meeting adequate renewables goals and a higher percentage of green power would unnecessarily raise costs. Currently Michigan has an RPS of 10% by 2015.

Utility critics have also said the proposal would limit their rate recovery for the increased level of renewable generation.

But supporters are pointing to a recent report by Michigan State University economists and academics that says the 25-by-2025 proposal will create jobs and generate $10.3bn of private investment in Michigan’s economy.

Michigan had 487 MW of wind power online on July 1 and projects currently under construction will double that by the end of the year. According to AWEA, a 25% RPS would create the equivalent of 5,300-6,000 MW of incremental demand for renewable energy by 2025, or 530 to 600 MW per year between 2015 and 2025.

AWEA says at least 31 businesses produced wind components in Michigan. For example, wind turbines are manufactured in Saginaw, and wind towers are now being made on a former brownfield site in Monroe.

AWEA also says the Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs proposal has been endorsed by a wide range of groups, including more than 230 Michigan businesses, prominent Republican and Democratic leaders, unions, health professionals such as the Michigan Nurses Association, environmental groups, faith leaders and more.