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Natural Gas: A Growing Piece of Michigan’s Energy Puzzle

Whether its wind, solar, hydro power, nuclear, natural gas, or any other source of energy, what matters most is keeping energy in Michigan affordable, reliable, and sustainable. States like Michigan that use a variety of energy sources are best positioned to meet these goals.

One key piece of Michigan's energy future—possibly the biggest piece—is natural gas. Investing in Michigan's energy future means investing in the infrastructure that will support natural gas as a major fuel source for decades to come.

The Future of Natural Gas

Natural gas has become an increasingly cost-effective energy resource since the 1990s, thanks to its affordability and clean-burning capabilities. Developments like the NEXUS pipeline are allowing Michigan to harness the benefits of natural gas and update our energy mix to remain stable, efficient, and affordable as our older power plants close and we transition to cleaner, more efficient energy generation.

Michigan energy providers are developing renewables like wind and solar at an accelerated pace and are currently the largest investors in renewable energy for our state. But renewable energy alone cannot keep electricity reliable and affordable 24 hours a day, seven days a week – so natural gas likely will become Michigan's primary source of energy in the coming decades.

Luckily, Michigan is well positioned to leverage natural gas for electricity almost immediately. Much of the necessary natural gas infrastructure already is in place. Investing in updates and maintenance to existing transmission lines will allow our state to capitalize on this safer, cleaner source of energy.

Natural Gas in the Great Lakes Region

We know Michigan's landscape is conducive to many types of energy, and most of the time people point to wind. However, our state's geography also is ideal for supporting, storing and producing natural gas. "Michigan has the most underground natural gas storage capacity in the nation, and has the second-largest number of natural gas storage fields after Pennsylvania." Michigan's geography is also ripe for natural gas development; the Antrim Gas Field in the northern region of the Lower Peninsula has produced more than 90 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Heating your Home vs. Powering your Home

More than 75 percent of Michigan households use natural gas as their primary source for home heating, but using natural gas to heat your home is different than converting natural gas to electricity. Combustion turbine technology burns natural gas, creating pressure that causes turbines to rotate, generating electricity the grid then can transmit to homes and businesses statewide.

A Resource for the Future

Michigan already is capitalizing on the benefits of natural gas, but a continued focus on investing in our state's energy future will allow us to better prepare for the changing energy landscape. Natural gas is a cleaner, safer, and more efficient resource that has and will continue to benefit our state in the coming years. An investment in natural gas is an investment in Michigan's energy future.

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This Holiday, Give the Gift of Energy Assistance

Many Michigan families are trimming trees, wrapping presents, and making spirits bright in preparation for the holidays. For some low-income families, however, the holiday season’s frigid winter weather conditions create considerable anxiety as simply keeping the heat on can leave them facing tough choices.

Michigan has a variety of resources available for those in need, and many ways you can help people in your community who may be struggling. Read below to learn just a few ways you can share the gift of energy assistance so every Michigan family can enjoy a warm, safe holiday season.

  •         The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW). This non-profit organization has distributed more than $172 million in assistance to keep more than 232,000 Michigan homes warm since its founding in 1985. THAW aims to help the elderly, unemployed, and disabled who may be unable to heat their homes. With four different assistance programs available, Michigan families can apply for the program best suiting their needs to help reduce or even eliminate the cost of heating a home. Want to give the gift of energy assistance? Consider donating by visiting THAW’s website.
  •         Michigan Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP). The Michigan state government understands how brutal winters can be and has allocated funds to the Michigan Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. LIHEAP provides assistance to Michigan families of any size who meet basic State Emergency Relief (SER) guidelines. Families can apply online or call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for more details.
  •        Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (DHS). Michigan DHS also will help low-income families defer energy costs through three different programs: a home heating credit, state emergency relief, or weatherization assistance. Each program tackles various home energy issues from heating and electricity to wall insulation and smoke detector testing. To learn more about how to apply for Michigan DHS assistance, visit their website.
  •        Michigan Community Action. This organization helps close the energy affordability gap by supporting community action agencies in Michigan who can work directly with low-income families. Michigan Community Action estimates low-income families spend 20 to 30 percent of their income just to heat their homes, whereas middle class or wealthy families only pay 7 to 10 percent. Michigan Community Action provides more information about their assistance programs for energy optimization, utility assistance, and weatherization assistance online.
  •        Consumers Energy Assistance. If you or someone you know needs help making ends meet this month, Consumers Energy has a variety of assistance programs available for varying levels of need. Check out their Critical Care Program, or help someone in your neighborhood with the Helping Neighbors Energy Efficiency Assistance. They’ll help you set up a budget and payment plan too!
  •        DTE Gift of Energy. Do you know someone who may need a little extra help this holiday season? You can give the Gift of Energy through DTE. Pay a portion of someone’s energy bill who could use a helping hand. This is particularly helpful for low-income families or relatives living on a fixed income.

Making Every Michigander’s Holiday Bright and Warm

Many of us take energy for granted, but some Michigan families are particularly aware of the struggles a cold winter brings. Keeping the heat and lights on shouldn’t be a luxury for anyone this time of year, and it’s a matter of life and death for some of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. This holiday season, give the gift of energy assistance by supporting one of the programs listed above, or direct a family in need to the right resource.

For more information, contact your friends at AMP by emailing us at info@allianceformichiganpower.com

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Why Wind for Michigan?

The energy landscape is constantly evolving and changing (just like Michigan weather). To keep energy affordable and reliable at the same time we move toward a cleaner energy future, Michigan must invest in a range of renewable energy sources across the state, from Detroit to Kalamazoo, and all the way to Sault St. Marie.

Wind energy is an increasingly viable energy source. Mixed with other sources of energy, wind power can bolster reliability and variety in Michigan’s energy supply.

How is Michigan Using Wind Power?

Michigan energy providers like DTE Energy have already invested in significant wind power infrastructure, and are generating more renewable energy at lower costs than ever before. Some of these updates include higher-output wind turbine designs and new software applications.

Read below to learn how Michigan can benefit from wind power.

·        Wind could save you money. Because the fuel is free, costs to consumers stay low. On average, wind power costs between two and six cents per kilowatt-hour, making it one of the cheapest energy sources in the country.

·        Wind power is good for the economy. Contributing more than $20 billion to the United States economy every year, wind power allows us to be competitive in the energy market. Michigan residents are seeing revenue greatly benefit their communities as well. Tuscola County voted in favor of a millage that gave the local Akron-Fairgrove Public School District $3 million to improve the school for agreeing to host wind turbines.

·        Wind creates jobs. Wind power jobs are in abundance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 100,000 people have been employed in the wind sector. That number is expected to exceed 600,000 by the year 2050. Furthermore, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that Michigan hosts 120 companies that supply the tools necessary to harness wind power.

·        Wind energy is good for the environment. Not only will energy bills be lower, you can feel good knowing that your use of wind power comes with less impact on the environment.

·        There is no scarcity of wind power. In Michigan, at least, we don’t have to worry about running out of wind. Maps of Michigan’s wind farms illustrate that the majority of wind turbines are located in the thumb region where turbines turn the continuous gusts off of Lake Huron into energy that helps power Michigan’s entire grid. Wind energy installations can also be found in the UP and other areas of the state.

As older coal-fired power plants continue to shut their doors across the Midwest, it is important for Michigan—as well as other states nationwide—to look toward the future of energy. By continuing to invest in wind energy and modernizing existing structures, the future of Michigan energy is bright.


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Fact Friday: What it Means to Choose MI Energy

Choosing Michigan means choosing energy policies that prioritize Michigan jobs, drive our economy, and support our schools, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, environment, and much more. Our landmark 2016 energy legislation set us on the right path to secure a bright, affordable, and reliable Michigan energy future. Below are just a few reminders of how choosing local energy means choosing Michigan.

Choose Michigan: Back to School

Education is a critical priority in Michigan, and local energy providers not only keep schools supplied with reliable power but also fund local schools through tax revenue.

Choose Michigan: Energy + Agriculture = Prosperity

Michigan’s agriculture industry is a major economic sector for the state, helping to support Michigan jobs and keep our communities — rural and urban alike — strong and prosperous.

Choose Michigan: Tourism & Hospitality

Tourism, travel, and hospitality support thousands of Michigan jobs. In 2015, the leisure and hospitality sector added an estimated 11,000 jobs with an additional 20,000 positions to be filled through 2017.

The Economic Impact of Local Energy Investment: Construction, Building, and Design

Designing and building new power plants, renewable projects, and other infrastructure improvements helps support a thriving construction industry that employs hundreds of thousands of skilled Michigan workers.

Choose Local Safety and Health
Public safety and health represent a significant percentage of the budget for most Michigan cities and towns — from local police and fire personnel and equipment to ambulance services, 24/7 911 service, safety and emergency response training for citizens, and more.

CHOOSE MICHIGAN ENERGY!

Local energy providers support local businesses, education, and services in ways that out-of-state energy providers can’t match. As we head into a new year in 2018, let’s encourage our Michigan legislators to keep choosing Michigan!

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Turning Sunshine Into Energy: How Large-Scale Solar Benefits Michigan

Solar power already is a critical part of Michigan’s energy mix. Its role in supplying reliable, increasingly affordable energy for Michigan homes and businesses will grow in the future.

As we make the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future, there’s no doubt solar power will be a critical piece of the energy puzzle. We need the right policies in place and the right approach to ensure everyone can benefit from this renewable energy resource.

Michigan’s Large-Scale Solar

Michigan may not get the same amount of sunlight as other states, but the sheer size and scope of large-scale solar projects—sometimes called “utility-scale” or “community-based” solar—enable us to more effectively harness the power of the sun. Even as winter approaches, these large-scale solar projects are helping communities across Michigan.

Think of DTE Energy’s Lapeer solar park, which officially opened last month. It’s one of the largest utility-owned solar projects east of the Mississippi and the biggest in Michigan, producing enough energy to power 11,000 homes. Or take Consumers Energy’s Solar Gardens program, launched last fall. Partnering with Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University, the projects feature over 15,000 solar panels that allow consumers enrolled in the program to power their homes with solar energy.

Making Solar Work for Michigan

Large-scale solar projects like DTE Energy’s Lapeer solar park and Consumers Energy’s Solar Gardens offer immense benefits for consumers and the environment:

  • Less of an investment. Large-scale projects help deliver solar energy more efficiently and cost-effectively to more people, ensuring Michiganders at all income levels can access this renewable energy.
  • A more practical approach. If you live in an apartment or condo complex, it may not even be possible to install rooftop solar panels. Large solar arrays make solar power an option for all Michiganders, not just those who own single-family homes and can afford their own solar panels.
  • Increased cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency. Large-scale solar projects in the U.S. are significantly more cost effective than rooftop solar. It costs roughly one-half to generate the same amount of energy via large-scale solar than via rooftop panels. Moreover, generating solar power via large-scale solar avoids approximately 50 percent more carbon emissions than rooftop generation.

Smart Energy Policy to Promote Large-Scale Solar

Smart energy policies out of Lansing—like last year’s landmark energy legislation—will foster a positive environment, encouraging the development of even more large-scale solar projects. Such policies will be critical in securing a cleaner energy future for all Michiganders.

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