Chamber Collaborates with Governor’s Office and Other Chambers on Energy Efficiency Retrofits and Clean Energy Generation Solutions for Members

Posted: 04/23/2014 in General Information, Where We Stand
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Saginaw County Chamber Logo 2012

On April 9, 2014, the Lansing Regional, Saginaw County, and Traverse City Area Chamber CEOs and Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy hosted an energy-focused briefing call with Governor Snyder’s Office and 40 local chamber representatives and member companies from around the state. Following is a recap of the discussion and important information the chamber and members can use to pursue energy efficiency retrofits and clean energy generation.

Valerie Brader, Governor Snyder’s Senior Policy Advisor on Energy, updated the audience on key elements of the Governor’s energy goals. Brader has been very supportive of local chambers and had spoken in person at a gathering of local Michigan chambers in Lansing in January. As Michigan plans for the eventual retirement of some of its coal plants and how to replace this supply, it wants to be adaptable and ready for the future. Michigan uses 38% more energy per capita and pays six percent more than the national average for heat and power. The Governor’s office sees an opportunity in diversifying sources of energy and significantly increasing energy efficiency. Diversifying the portfolio of energy sources also has the potential to increase Michigan’s business competitiveness. There are opportunities to reduce mercury and particulate matter in the air, increase the desirability of Michigan as a place to do business, and improve public health.

Michigan’s industrial sector is energy intensive, in part due to older equipment and buildings. While businesses have a financial incentive to upgrade or do energy retrofits, they don’t always have the time and financing to do them. The Governor is interested in examples where chambers and their members overcame these barriers.

Doug Luciani, CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber, outlined a revolving loan fund created to fund building retrofits. Loans go up to $250k at low interest rates. The program has been very well received. The Saginaw County Chamber said it plans to involve its members in one of the state’s new energy working groups and the Lansing Regional Chamber discussed its continuing efforts to guide innovative energy policies in the state.

In terms of facilitating change through policy, right now there is a bill in the legislature (HB 5397) that would allow qualifying municipal electric utilities to offer innovative financing options to customers interested in making energy efficiency improvements. These financing mechanisms, such as on-bill financing or locally issued bonds, allow customers to spread the cost of efficiency and renewable energy projects out over a set amount of time, rather than bearing the full cost up-front. The final speaker was Erin Lane with Cascade Associates in Washington D.C. Erin gave an excellent overview of the high level of bi-partisan momentum in Congress around energy efficiency. Follow this link to a summary of legislative bills.

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