The Clean Energy and Jobs Act includes several bills that include a mandate that utilities sell 100% of electricity generation from emissions-free sources, though environmentalists argue it has opened the door for non-clean sources to participate.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law the Clean Energy and Jobs Act, a series of bills that include a mandate for 100% clean energy sales by utilities by 2040. Michigan now becomes the 12th state to enact a 100% clean energy mandate.
Whitmer said the clean energy package is expected to add more than 160,000 Michigan jobs. The state had already experienced a 5% boost in clean energy and transportation jobs last year.
Senate Bill 271 outlines the 100% emissions-free mandate, which directs utilities to generate at least 60% of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind. Nuclear power, hydrogen fuel, and natural gas paired with carbon capture are eligible to cover the remaining 40%.
While the high renewables penetration is a desirable outcome in the view of environmental advocates, some have argued that the inclusion of natural gas combined with carbon capture is a detriment due to inefficiency and high cost. Juan Jhong-Chung, co-executive director of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, said that carbon capture technology does not address air pollution associated with burning natural gas.
“What the bill does is actually redefine what counts as clean energy,” Jhong-Chung said. “It’s repackaging natural gas as a clean energy source. To us, 100% clean energy by 2040 is not going to be 100% clean.”
The bills include several clean energy milestone mandates, including:
Requiring utilities to get 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources — such as wind or solar— through 2029 and then increase the amount of electricity that’s generated from renewables to 50% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 An energy storage standard of 2.5GW by 2030 Raising caps on distributed energy sources such as rooftop solar Increasing electric utility energy efficiency savings requirements and goals and clarifying that energy efficiency programs don’t discourage building electrification
“Once Michigan’s bill becomes law, a dozen states will have made 100% clean or renewable electricity commitments,” said Johanna Neumann, a senior director with Environment America. “Environment America and our state organizations will continue to campaign for 100% renewable energy commitments from state governments across the country in years to come.”