Michigan Ratepayers Celebrate Historic Win for Greener, Healthier Energy

LANSING, Michigan — A diverse coalition of advocates across the state are touting approval of Consumers Energy’s 15-year power plan after the work of thousands of Michigan residents called for the utility to move more quickly from coal and gas to healthier, more affordable, renewable wind and solar.

More than 4,500 people submitted public comments to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) as the Commissioners reviewed Consumers Energy’s plans. The huge surge of public reaction convinced the utility company to negotiate a historic settlement in line with what Michiganders called for.

Groups across the state — MI Future, MI Power; Natural Resources Defense Council; Sierra Club Michigan Chapter; Union of Concerned Scientists; Vote Solar; and West Michigan Environmental Action Council — together organized thousands of members of the public to submit comments to the MPSC. The group also delivered copies of comments directly to Consumers Energy.

Several organizations released the following statements reacting to the commission’s decision.

“The fact that we had thousands of comments to drop off at the Consumers Energy office made me very hopeful that we would push the utility to come up with a better plan for renewable energy,” said Sergio Cira-Reyes of Grand Rapid’s Urban Core Collective. “We know that pollution from fossil fuels and extreme weather from the climate crisis hits Black, brown and low-income communities disproportionately and we are glad to see our communities speak out to protect themselves.”

“A victory like this inspires us as advocates,” said Nayyirah Shariff of Flint Rising, “ We stopped Consumers Energy from acquiring the methane gas plant in Dearborn and we’ll continue to work on shutting down the company’s wood-burning incinerator in Flint that pollutes our air and jeopardizes our health. We’re committed to continuing the fight for climate justice in our state.”

“The settlement agreement with Consumers Energy is a significant step forward in Michigan’s fight against the climate crisis. It ensures that the utility retires its last coal plant, the J.H. Campbell Plant, no later than 2025 while abandoning efforts to acquire gas plants owned by its parent company, CMS Energy,” said Derrell Slaughter, Michigan Clean Energy Advocate at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “Consumers Energy will add significant amounts of clean energy resources like 8,000 megawatts of solar by 2040 and battery storage to its generation mix. These significant wins, fought for by the community, are a step in the right direction to get Michigan on track to meet its carbon reduction goals and improve air quality.”

“Today, advocates of energy justice and equity celebrate. Consumers Energy’s settlement agreement will not only lift the environmental injustice burden from communities surrounding the coal plant, but will empower many more to choose renewable energy sources, such as solar and battery storage, for their homes, businesses, and schools. We look towards a clean, safe, and just future for all Michiganders.” said Jenna Warmuth, Midwest Regional Director at Vote Solar.

“Today’s approval is a strong step toward the clean energy future Michigan needs, one that phases out coal-power this decade, avoids reliance on new fossil gas plants, and significantly invests in clean resources such as solar,” said James Gignac, Senior Midwest Energy Analyst with Union of Concerned Scientists. “Recent research by the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition and Union of Concerned Scientists shows the state can achieve a 100% renewable electricity standard by 2035 with tremendous health and economic benefits. Consumers Energy and the Commission listened to the thousands of public comments submitted in the case, showing how people and communities can drive change toward more inclusive and healthier electricity plans with benefits for all.”

Dr. Julie Quinn of Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action said, “Our organization is a coalition of healthcare workers who witness firsthand the deep effects that pollution and climate change have on our patients. Our members called on the Michigan Public Service Commission to consider public health, climate change, and racial justice as they considered Consumers Energy’s 15-year plan. We strongly advocated for changes that would reduce greenhouse gasses and increase investment in renewable energy. We applaud the approval of this settlement agreement, which ensures Consumers will become coal-free by 2025, prevents the proposed purchase of three methane gas plants, and invests in additional clean energy sources for our state.”

“Michigan Interfaith Power & Light inspires people of faith to take action as stewards of the earth,” saidLeah Wiste, Executive Director of Michigan Interfaith Power & Light. “This is why our members joined dozens of organizations and thousands of people across the state calling for a more responsible, equitable power plan from Consumers Energy. We celebrate this historic agreement that highlights the power of community and proves that real change can come when we stand in solidarity for climate justice.”

Originally published on NRDC.


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