Renewable Energy Reform in Michigan

Saturday, April 1, 2017


Tanner Savitsky


As the industrial revolution and capitalism firmly took hold several hundred years ago, the production of excess carbon dioxide and other fossil fuels has negatively influenced the environment. Many fossil fuels, like coal, were cheap, effective, and widespread as companies looked to increase productive output while minimizing costs. However, only over the past 50 years have humans finally begun to understand the effects that carbon emissions and fossil fuels have on the environment. According to some estimates, if humans stay on their current path, global temperatures could rise roughly 4° Celsius over the next 100 years. To put this in context, the Earth’s temperatures have risen only 4° over the entire span of human history1. Obviously this cannot be coincidental and the dire nature of the problem has spurred investment and research into renewable energy resources like wind, natural gas, and solar power. However, proponents of renewable energy have been met with staunch opposition from energy companies who have incentives to continue producing energy as they always have and from legislators who argue that renewable gas is far too expensive and would be unaffordable to most individuals. While both of these groups may be justified to a certain extent, over the past five years, there has been incredible progress in bringing down the prices of renewable energy. If renewable energy prices continue on its current trajectory, it will eventually become a rational replacement for fossil fuels altogether. As such, the state of Michigan should follow the example of other progressive states by mandating much higher levels of renewables by 2050. By understanding the importance and effectiveness of solar, natural gas, and specifically wind power, the state of Michigan can build the necessary infrastructure to support its widespread production in the future. In doing this, Michigan will not only do its part in countering global warming, but will also position itself to benefit economically from increased renewable energy demand in the future.