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Getting law right in Michigan

Last month saw the wind lobby spring into action to prevent a renewable energy mandate from being passed into law in Michigan. Calling the law proposal "flawed and toothless," the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) urged Governor Jennifer Granholm to veto it, should it make it to her desk. The bill passed by the House of Representatives would have required utilities to procure less than one half of 1% of their energy portfolio from renewable energy by 2014, a derisory low level compared with most state mandates, some of which require more than 20% green power. It also lacked an effective enforcement mechanism to ensure utility compliance. Getting the law right in Michigan is important given the state's size, wind potential, and electric load, says AWEA's Hans Detweiler. Behind Florida, Michigan is the second largest American state that lacks a renewable energy mandate. "It's a large state, large electric load, so if you get a renewable energy standard, it moves the needle on the demand picture for the country," says Detweiler. Depending on how renewables are defined, a stronger mandate such as 10% by 2015 could mean about 2000 MW of new wind power, he says. The legislative process is to blame for the weak House bill. "It looks from an outside perspective they tried to give every stakeholder a piece of the pie and by the time they got done with that, there was no pie left." The House version of the bill would need to be reconciled with a Senate version. It is unlikely the Senate will offer one soon.

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