MI House Republicans target transit and renewable energy

On February 5, the Michigan House Republican caucus released their 2015-2016 policy action plan, “Focused on Michigan’s Future: Charting a Course for Continued Recovery.” One of the pillars of that plan, titled “Getting Michigan Moving and Powering its Future,” includes reforming Michigan’s existing transportation funding formula and allowing Michigan energy companies to fulfill their renewable energy requirement with out-of-state renewable energy.

MI House Republicans' Action planAs it stands, public transportation receives only 8.5% of the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF) and 6.975% of motor-vehicle-related items’ sales tax. These percentages were last determined by a July 25, 1997 revision of Public Act 51. The moneys, amassed and disbursed by the Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTF), are meant to:

  1. Develop public transportation agencies in eligible communities and municipalities,
  2. Investigate public transportation conditions and recommend improvements, and
  3. Encourage, coordinate, and administer grants for the research and development of state-specific public transportation facilities and solutions.

In the last 18 years, the need for quality public transportation in rural and urban areas across Michigan has only increased – with Detroit at the beginning of a renaissance, the economy recovering from historical lows, and unemployment rates slowly declining. Though we do not yet know how the formula for transportation funding will change, given the Republican Party’s stance on public transportation at the local and state levels, it’s safe to assume that funding for public transportation will be in jeopardy.

A Renewable Energy Standard was put into place in October 2008 by the Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act. As of 2015, Michigan energy companies were required to have 10% of their energy portfolio consist of "renewables". "Renewables" encompasses solar thermal electric, photovoltaics, landfill gas, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal electric, municipal solid waste, CHP/cogeneration, coal-fired power with carbon capture and sequestration, gasification, anaerobic digestion, tidal energy, and wave energy.

By requiring energy companies to use Renewables, Public Act 295 doesn’t just encourage energy production that is safer for the environment and for MI residents, but energy production that is locally-sourced and creates jobs here in Michigan. The MI Republican House Representatives’ goal of allowing for out-of-state renewable energy to fulfill the Renewable Energy Portfolio requirements established by PA 295 not only undermines but negates the positive effects the authors of the act originally intended.

Look for more on this issue as the story develops.