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Energy waste reduction saves Michigan customers nearly $1.2B; wind continues to dominate as renewable energy source


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Michigan continued to see the benefits of energy waste reduction (EWR) efforts in 2019 as EWR programs saved the state nearly 1.5 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity and more than 5 million cubic feet of natural gas. Meanwhile, wind remained the dominant source of renewable energy in the Great Lakes State.

The findings are detailed in two annual reports released today by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Energy Waste Reduction

According to the MPSC’s Annual Report on the Implementation of PA 295 2019 Utility Energy Waste Reduction Programs, 64 investor-owned, cooperative and municipal electric companies in Michigan spent nearly $250.7 million on EWR programs, while the state’s natural gas utilities spent nearly $96 million.

The combined total of nearly $347 million on EWR programs by all of the state’s electric and natural gas utilities is expected to save customers nearly $1.2 billion over the 12-year lifecycle of EWR efforts adopted in 2019. The report concludes that for every $1 spent on EWR programs in 2019, customers should realize savings of $3.30.

The report found that EWR programs cost utilities $16.61 per MWh in 2019, significantly cheaper than the $42.80 per MWh it would cost through building new generation facilities, based on estimates from the U.S. Energy Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2020.

Utilities spent nearly $38 million on EWR programs in 2019 for qualified low-income households. EWR programs reduce the energy burden, improve health outcomes and strengthen the economic security of low-income customers and communities. The MPSC’s EWR Low Income Workgroup, which includes state agencies, utilities and outside organizations, continues its work to develop initiatives to reduce energy costs for low-income constituencies. More information is available at the MPSC’s Low Income Workgroup page.

Michigan’s EWR standard was created in 2008 and amended in 2016. It requires all natural gas and electric utility providers to implement customer programs that lower energy use to reduce the future cost of service.

Renewable Energy

The MPSC’s annual Report on the Implementation and Cost-Effectiveness of the P.A. 295 Renewable Energy Standard found that utility-scale wind turbines accounted for 72% of the approximately 3,100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity in 2019.

Hydroelectric facilities accounted for 11%, biomass 6%, landfill gas 5% and solar installations and municipal solid waste 3%.

Eight wind and solar projects across the state are expected to add nearly 1,100 MW of new, utility scale renewable electricity generation in 2021 and 2022:

  • Crescent Wind, Hillsdale County, 166 MW.
  • Isabella I Wind, Isabella County, 197 MW.
  • Isabella II Wind, Isabella County, 186 MW.
  • Fairbanks Wind Park, Delta County, 72.45 MW.
  • Meridian Wind Farm, Midland and Saginaw counties, 224.9 MW.
  • Assembly Solar, Shiawassee County, 79 MW.
  • River Fork Solar (DTE Electric), Calhoun County, 49 MW.
  • River Fork Solar (Consumers Energy), Calhoun County, 100 MW.

Among the report’s other findings:

  • Since P.A. 295’s passage, $4.3 billion has been invested to bring about 2,276 MW of new renewable energy projects online through 2020.
  • The weighted average price of renewable energy projects and contracts is $64.48 per MWh.

The Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives found that renewable energy related industries displayed job gains from 6,775 total in 2005 to 10,033 as of the first quarter of 2020.

Under Public Act 295, electricity providers were required to meet a 10% renewable energy standard based on retail sales by 2015. Public Act 342 of 2016 raised the requirement to 12.5% in 2019 and 2020, and 15% by the end of 2021. All electricity providers subject to the standards met the goals, and are on track to meet the target of obtaining 35% of their energy needs from renewable energy and energy waste reduction by 2035.

Electric provider renewable energy annual reports are available on the MPSC’s website.

For information about the MPSC, visit, sign up for its monthly newsletter or other listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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