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Energy waste reduction saves Michigan more than $1.3B; wind stays at top of renewable energy sources

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Energy waste reduction (EWR) programs saved the state almost 1.6 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity and more than 6 million Mcf (thousand cubic feet) of natural gas in 2020, demonstrating the continued benefits of EWR efforts across Michigan. Meanwhile, wind turbines maintained their dominance among the state’s sources of renewable energy.

These and other findings were released today in two annual energy reports from the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Energy Waste Reduction

The MPSC’s Annual Report on the Implementation of PA 295 2020 Utility Energy Waste Reduction Programs found that Michigan’s 64 investor-owned, cooperative and municipal electric companies spent $294.3 million on EWR programs. Natural gas utilities spend more than $125 million.

The combined total of nearly $419 million spent on EWR programs by all the state’s electric and natural gas utilities is expected to save customers more than $1.34 billion over the 12-year lifecycle of EWR programs and measures implemented in 2020. For every $1 spent on EWR programs in 2020, customers realize savings of $3.20, the report concludes.

Utilities spent more than $56 million on EWR programs in 2020 for qualified low-income households. That’s up from $37.8 million in 2019, representing a nearly 50% increase. 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.

Created in 2008 and amended in 2016, Michigan’s EWR standard requires all natural gas and electric utilities to implement customer programs that lower energy use to reduce the future cost of service.

Renewable Energy

Utility-scale wind turbines accounted for 77% of the approximately 4,200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity in 2021, the MPSC’s annual Report on the Implementation and Cost-Effectiveness of the P.A. 295 Renewable Energy Standard found.

Hydroelectric facilities accounted for 9%, biomass 7%, solar installations 4%, landfill gas 3%, and municipal solid waste 1%.

Across the state, three utility-scale wind farms and three utility-scale solar farms are expected to become operational, adding 725 MW of new, utility-scale renewable electricity generation in 2022:

  • Fairbanks Wind Park, Delta County, 72.45 MW.
  • Meridian Wind Farm, Midland and Saginaw Counties, 224.9 MW.
  • Heartland Farms Wind Farm, Gratiot County, 200 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.

The report found that, since P.A. 295’s passage, more than $5.1 billion has been invested to bring about 2,828 MW of new renewable energy projects online through 2021.

The weighted average price of renewable energy projects and contracts is $64.01 per MWh.

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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