By Mark Schauer
Michigan’s goal to have 10 percent of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2015 is driving innovation, creating jobs, and making our environment cleaner. Meanwhile, a recent article in the Muskegon Chronicle highlighted how the cost of the state’s mandate has come in far below earlier estimates.
Our state has abundant resources to generate homegrown electricity. The wind in the middle of the state and along the Great Lakes, as well as our surprisingly good climate for solar energy, gives us an advantage over many other states in growing our clean renewable energy sources.
Wind, solar, and other clean energy projects have cropped up all over the state, creating good jobs, reducing pollution, and contributing to the goal of reducing our nation’s dependence on imported oil. For example, Michigan had already installed more than 1,000 kilowatts of solar energy by the end of the 2009. Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently predicted that we would create 150,000 clean energy jobs in the next decade from the $14 billion of projects in the pipeline, including 17 advanced battery companies and nearly 50 wind, solar and biofuel companies coming to the state.
In addition to those natural resources that make Michigan a great place to harness renewable energy, we also have another renewable resource that that makes our state a great place to manufacture the components for clean energy: our highly skilled work force. Michiganders know how to make things. We have the skills to create technology that will be at the forefront of the 21st century competition for jobs with China, Europe and the rest of the world. And, we have the manufacturing infrastructure in place to not just compete, but to win those jobs and industries of the future.
This is why we need to make a commitment to continue Michigan’s clean energy renaissance.
After years of job losses, today we have the opportunity to replace the hundreds of thousands of jobs that have disappeared with good jobs that will be the foundation for our economic, environmental, and energy future. It is the time to protect the policies leading to our success, while implementing a strategy that will drive us further down the road to a clean energy economy.
With a strong commitment, we can be sure that Michigan’s clean energy economy thrives for generations to come — creating good jobs for our state, while leaving a better planet for our children and grandchildren.
Mark Schauer is a former congressman from Michigan’s 7h District and the National co-chaimanr of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Jobs21! initiative. For more, visit www.bluegreenalliance.org.