It looks like approval for eight more conventional coal plants now in the pipeline will be delayed and/or cancelled.
This time, the action is taking place in Lansing, Michigan, where Governor Jennifer Granholm has just called for a near-moratorium on the construction of new coal-fired power plants while state agencies consider “all feasible and prudent” alternatives.
In her State of the State address, Governor Granholm also pledged to reduce Michigan’s reliance on fossil fuel-generated electricity by 45 percent by 2020–an aggressive goal. She framed the pledge not in terms of greenhouse gases but in terms of dollars:
Instead of spending nearly $2 billion a year importing coal or natural gas from other states we’ll be spending our energy dollars on Michigan wind turbines, Michigan solar panels, Michigan energy-efficiency devices, all designed, manufactured and installed by … Michigan workers.
The governor expects that much of the additional electricity demand will be met by efficiency improvements and distributed renewable energy. She cited the success of a three year-old program which has reduced the Michigan government’s electricity use by 23% while saving taxpayers over $60 million, and also a proposed program to allow individuals and business to increase efficiency with zero upfront charges, to be paid off with monthly energy savings.
Those and other energy and green job programs, the governor said, were responsible for the creation of “55,000 jobs; $4.7 billion of investment; and 84 companies. This despite the recession. Just since August.”
The coal industry of course, had a different opinion. The senior vice president of communications for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) stated early Thursday morning that “the decision by Governor Granholm to delay the process of reviewing air permits for the construction of state-of-the-art clean coal technology power plants in Michigan is regrettable.” He followed that up with: “these projects, assuming that they are approved by the proper permitting agency, could bring economic relief and create jobs for Michigan workers, at a time when the state battles the worst unemployment rate in the nation.”
There are two problems here.
First, of the eight conventional coal projects that have been put on hold, none of them were “clean coal” plants. It is unclear therefore why the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity should need to express its regret, unless of course the ACCCE is just a tone-deaf oxymoronic advertising front set up to put a clean face on dirty industry.
Seriously. If it is going to try to bluff, the ACCCE should learn to keep its cards closer to its chest.
Second, it seems like the ACCCE senior vice president for communications didn’t read Governor Granholm’s speech very carefully. If he had, he would have picked up on the fact that Michigan’s economic development agency has just had “the best six months ever in its history for creating jobs,” thanks in large part to green jobs initiatives, and energy efficiency and renewable energy commitments made under Granholm’s administration.
Building new coal plants are not the only way to create jobs in Michigan. The Governor’s commitment to renewable energy, including an upcoming pledge to allow residential and commercial property owners to sell renewably-generated electricity back to the grid, has already attracted investment from four wind turbine manufacturers and three solar panel manufacturers just since October 2008.
Governor Granholm’s support for energy innovation in Michigan will almost certainly have long term benefits. Unlike conventional coal-fired generation, the future of which is certainly uncertain, demand for these products both at home and abroad is not going anywhere.
Click here to read Governor Granholm’s executive directive.
[JR: Sean Pool is quickly becoming CP's resident coal-obit writer (see "Another One Bites the Dust...."). Let's hope it is a very busy job!]
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