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SCOTUS begins issuing new opinions, with another expected related to the power of federal agencies, the battleground state of Wisconsin gets a ruling on alternative voting sites, and coastal work is being done to help salt marshes withstand hurricanes.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Legislation weighs in on energy options to drive down costs for Michiganders

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Monday, October 16, 2023   

The Michigan Legislature is weighing bills to increase the state's energy efficiency standards as part of a broad clean energy and climate package.

Senate Bills 271, 272 and 273, along with House Bill 4761, were introduced this spring and summer by advocates for clean energy.

Angana Shah, policy manager for the nonprofit Michigan United, said the bills will bring money back into Michiganders' hands, where it belongs.

"Utility profits are at record levels, so we do not need to worry about those," Shah argued. "What we need to worry about is us, the customers, the ratepayers, Michiganders."

Michiganders are already saving nearly $3 for every dollar invested in energy efficiency programs, according to new data from the Michigan Public Service Commission. Opponents of the proposed bills and further investment in clean energy said the costs will increase rather than come down initially.

Martin Kushler, senior fellow at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, said Michigan is almost entirely dependent on imports from other states and countries for the fossil fuels consumed. He noted the state imports 100% of the coal, 92% of the natural gas and 97% of the oil and petroleum products used.

Kushler stressed Michigan needs to step up its climate-related policy, and there are ways to do it and save money and make the energy grid more reliable.

"Energy efficiency and renewable energy, both are much cheaper these days than the cost of building and fueling a new power plant," Kushler pointed out. "That's just a fact."

Importing fossil fuels to Michigan costs $18 billion each year. According to a report comparing renewable energy to conventional electric generation, clean energy such as wind and solar are cost competitive and not subject to huge swings in fuel price.


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