Michigan communities have strong interest in energy collaborations, U-M survey finds

September 30, 2020
Nick Assendelft, Public Information Officer, AssendelftN@Michigan.gov, 517-388-3135
Debra Horner, U-M Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, DHorner@UMich.edu, 734-647-4091

Few local governments in Michigan report participating in municipal collaborations on energy issues, but nearly half expressed interest in working with other communities to pursue opportunities, according to results of the Michigan Local Energy Survey (MiLES)  released today by the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Only 17 percent of local governments statewide reported collaborations on non-motorized or public transportation, 7 percent on green purchasing programs and 3 percent reported sharing staffing for energy issues, according to the MiLES survey conducted by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP). Forty-four percent of local government officials said they had considerable interest in pursuing collaborations, particularly on green purchasing programs. Collaborations are more common in larger jurisdictions, the survey found.

The survey, which is part of the Michigan Public Policy Survey, is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Its findings allow for a better understanding of  local officials’ perceptions of the costs, benefits and likelihood of engaging in sustainability activities.

“Hearing from local officials on the programs they participate in and collaborate on is valuable information from an energy perspective,” said Robert Jackson, assistant director of EGLE’s Materials Management Division. “The survey results will help us to identify areas in which we may foster partnerships with municipal officials to identify opportunities for saving energy and money.”

CLOSUP noted the results found that collaboration on energy and sustainability issues is not just for big cities and counties.

“This report shows that local governments have significant interest in working together on sustainability issues,” said Dr. Sarah Mills, senior project manager of the Graham Sustainability Institute and CLOSUP. “Through U-M's ongoing collaboration with EGLE, we look forward to helping make some of those connections between local governments.”

The survey also asked local officials about their participation in recycling programs and likelihood of collaborating with other communities. Thirty-eight percent of jurisdictions statewide say they already collaborate while 36 percent say their jurisdiction doesn’t collaborate on recycling, but would be interested in doing so. As with the energy program, current collaboration is most common in larger jurisdictions around the state.

The survey was conducted last fall and had a nearly 73 percent response rate. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.39 percent.

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