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United States

Michigan gets renewables law but no action for two years

Michigan is the latest state in the US to pass a law requiring that renewables make up a proportion of electricity supplies -- 10% by 2015 -- but the structure of the legislation means little will happen for the first two years. The American Wind Energy Association has expressed numerous concerns with the bill, says the group's Hans Detweiler. Nearby Indiana, with similar wind resources and no renewables requirement, has 500 MW of wind plant under construction this year. Michigan is on track to end the year at 112 MW, but there is nothing new on the horizon. Meanwhile, the new law will be adding a $3 per month surcharge to residential bills. "To be paying that level of funding for no new projects over the next several years is something we expressed some deep concerns about," says Detweiler. "The investment cycle for the next two to three years, basically, is nothing." Still, he expects to see some immediate gains in a state notorious for unemployed workers and idle auto plants. Studies suggest Michigan is ideally suited for design, construction and operation of clean energy technology due to its wealth of engineering talent, superior tool, die and metal fabrication facilities, and well-developed supplier networks in place for the auto industry. Michigan can create more than 60,000 jobs by investing in solar, wind, biofuels and energy efficiency, according to the Center for American Progress. "Michigan does have a fantastic skilled manufacturing workforce infrastructure," Detweiler says. "We think it can help lower costs for the entire national industry if Michigan can get engaged." Currently only three per cent of Michigan's electric power is generated by renewable sources.

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