Sunday, February 14, 2010

Michigan House Republicans bizarre coal plant assertion: Talk to me in 2022

Michigan’s House of Representatives Republican caucus released a “Task Force on Jobs” report this past week suggesting that building new coal-fired power plants will reduce ratepayer costs.

It’s great news.

Because if had been a defensible falsehood rather than an outrageously transparent one, it might have been convincing.

A good sized coal fired power plant requires ratepayers (not shareholders) to finance $3 billion in construction costs. It saddles our children and grandchildren with a cumulative $9 billion debt to pay for coal from other states (nothing like spending locally!) It creates untold expenses to care for those whose health is damaged by pollution. And it ignores the certainty that there will be a price on carbon emissions in the future.

Western Upper Peninsula customers of WE Energy saw just what happened to their rates last year as a result of new coal-fired capacity built on their behalf. Coal cost them a 33 percent rate hike
I’m not among those who believe that we can meet our energy demands without ever building a new coal plant. We likely will need some as a crutch to get us to a cleaner and smarter future that relies first on efficiency and second on renewable energy’s exciting new technologies.

But we don’t need those money sucking coal plant crutches yet. Especially not when our state’s own Public Service Commission staff concluded in September that Michigan won’t need a new coal plant for at least 13 years:
What’s needed now is a wholesale commitment to energy efficiency. Programs that help industry, commercial businesses and homeowners become more efficient are the only ones that truly reduce ratepayer costs. They also provide in-state jobs for builders, installers, and the many Michigan companies that manufacture products that help cut energy use.

Coupled with aggressive use of renewable energy source like wind and solar, efficiency can meet our energy needs until we need to make a decision about whether a dirty, expensive coal plant is a necessary evil.

Talk to me in 2012.

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