Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency in Michigan


Background and Problem

In 2008, the Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 295, which established our state’s renewable energy standard (RES) and statewide energy efficiency resource standard (EERS), and placed Michigan on a path toward a reliable, affordable and healthy clean energy future. PA 295 requires that 10 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2015 and sets an annual energy efficiency savings target of 1 percent for electricity.

Since the implementation of the standards, Michigan has seen great success in creating clean energy jobs, increasing investment in Michigan’s economy, improving public health and saving families and businesses money on their monthly utility bills. Michigan has the opportunity to keep strengthening our economy and cleaning up our air by making further progress on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Renewable energy, like wind and solar, is increasingly more cost-effective than coal and major utilities have easily exceeded yearly energy efficiency savings goals- putting expanded, cost effective targets within our reach. However, with Michigan’s RES plateauing in 2015 at 10 percent and our energy efficiency targets up for review, the time to act is now to expand and update our renewable energy and energy efficiency goals.  

In addition, the EPA is finalizing its Clean Power Plan rule this year and Michigan will need to continue development of its clean energy programs in order meet its targets for reducing carbon emissions from power plants under the Plan.



  1. Michigan gets more than half (58%) of its electricity from burning coal. All of this coal is imported from other states.
  2. Michigan’s coal plants emit dangerous levels of mercury, sulfur dioxide and arsenic, which are linked to heart disease, childhood asthma, lung disease and premature death. Michigan is 5th in the nation regarding premature deaths and hospitalizations due to power plant pollution.
  3. Pollution from Michigan’s nine oldest coal-fired power plants has been linked to 68,000 cases of asthma attacks and 180 premature deaths annually, costing Michiganders $1 billion per year. Michigan’s asthma rate is 10%  higher than the national average.
  4. Michigan ranks third in the nation for clean energy job growth, and our state's clean energy sector is among the fastest growing in the country. Michigan’s renewable energy standard has created $2.2 billion in economic growth in Michigan since 2009.
  5. It costs significantly less to reduce carbon emissions through energy efficiency than by any other means. In 2013, for every $1 invested to meet statewide energy efficiency goals Michigan customers saw nearly $4 in benefits. 


Policy Priorities

  1. Increase Michigan’s renewable energy goals by 1.5% per year above and beyond the 2015 standards
  2. Update and increase the current statewide energy efficiency resource standard to 1.5% per year for electricity and 1% per year for natural gas
  3. Include public health costs in impact assessments when creating energy policies
  4. Defend the current science-based statutory definition of renewable energy and oppose efforts to call hazardous waste incineration renewable
  5. Develop a strong State Implementation Plan to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan and ensure effective implementation of that state plan

Published on January 19, 2017


February 27, 2017
The Ecology Center and its Michigan Renewable Schools program is evaluating evidence-based connections between improved student performance and health with strategic clean energy investments in our K-12 school facilities: better lighting, ventilation, exterior building shell, etc
January 30, 2017
One week down, and the environmental report is in regarding the new Administration: Scientific data scrubbed from federal websites. 2 oil pipelines resuscitated. 3 Cabinet nominations of climate dissemblers pushed forward. And over 2 million people protesting in the streets.
January 30, 2017
Volkswagen’s emission cheating scandal has resulted in a $14.7 billion settlement with the German automaker. While most of the settlement will reimburse owners of VW diesel vehicles, $2 billion has been set-aside for vehicle infrastructure and education projects.
December 28, 2016
After almost two years of continued perseverance and hard work, and possibly a bit of luck, the Michigan Legislature was finally able to pass new energy legislation. A deal was reached in the last hours of the legislative session with the passing of Senate Bills 473 and 438.
September 28, 2016
Ann Arbor City Council, Washtenaw County Commission, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce, the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation, Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority and Ypsilanti Library Board have endorsed the regional transit millage on the Nov. 8th ballot. Vote YES!
June 29, 2016
The long awaited RTA Master Plan draft was released to the public on May 31st. The intention of the plan is to connect transit service between Washtenaw, Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties, enabling ease of travel between the counties and connecting to existing local service.

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