Michigan Saves Energy, Money and Greenhouse Gas

8 Jul 2010

Cash for clunkers, home insulation credits, new energy star refrigerator rebates.  Each of these has one goal (beyond ramping up sales of manufactured goods) – conservation of energy.  We in this field have heard many utility staff and regulators say, “the best powerplant is the one you never have to build.”  There is some empirical evidence that energy conservation may have more positive impact on the environment than implementing any new technology.

Michigan is getting into this in a big way as it prepares to roll out its “Michigan Saves” program.  Michigan Saves is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making energy efficiency upgrades and installation of small-scale renewable energy systems more affordable for all types of Michigan energy consumers—businesses, schools, municipalities, and residents.  It has been endowed with a trust fund of $6.5 Million by the Michigan Public Service Commission and was granted $30 Million by the Federal government and is designed to eliminate upfront costs of installation and to provide a streamlined process for securing financing at preferred rates (www.michigansaves.org).

To complement this, Michigan has the Michigan Retrofit Ramp-up Initiative, which was one of 25 projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under the Recovery Act.  The MRRI is designed to support an energy efficiency market here by providing outreach and education to increase demand, a skilled energy efficiency workforce to meet that demand, and the tools for lenders to make ongoing investments in energy efficiency in residential and commercial/institutional buildings. The MRRI consists of two parts: residential retrofits in targeted neighborhoods across Michigan; and energy efficiency upgrades of commercial centers in the City of Detroit.

This focus on conservation does not mean that Michigan isn’t also striving to become a player in alternative energies. Michigan has had for a few years its Centers of Energy Excellence program and is certainly encouraging companies pursuing new energy technologies to locate or expand here.

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