Saturday, August 21, 2010

No, the Holland City Council does not get to decide Michigan's energy policy

Another proposed coal plant has hit a brick wall in Michigan. State regulators, citing the state Public Service Commission’s conclusions, said that no new baseload electricity generation is warranted.

We can meet demand for the foreseeable future without expensive polluting coal plants, primarily through energy efficiency programs that save customers money (utilities aren’t gung ho on a plan that reduces the need for their product whether it's necessary or not).

Loren Howard, general manager of Holland’s Board of Public Works, said state regulators should leave them alone: "They have no authority over what's right for a community. That's left to our board of directors for the utility and the Holland City Council.”

Maybe Mr. Howard can explain that logic to the communities downwind of the proposed plant whose asthmatic children don’t get a vote. Or the workers in energy efficiency industries like HVAC contractors, window installers and insulation specialists whose jobs disappear if we’re content to just burn more coal. Or to the generation of parents 50 years hence, who will be saddled with the decision.

No, a Michigan energy policy should have some sort of big picture direction. It shouldn’t be the victim of hundreds of local governments making decisions in ignorance of their neighbors and of regional needs.

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