Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 19, 2013

Forum: Clean energy, energy forums crucial

BY TIM PULLIAM
Traverse City Record-Eagle

— Developing a long-term energy plan and investing in clean energy is crucial to Michigan’s future. Gov. Rick Snyder’s recent energy forums are important first steps in developing such a plan.

As a clean-business owner in Traverse City, I’m grateful the administration came to hear what we have to say. My company, Keen Technical Solutions, provides businesses in all sectors with the skills needed to cut their energy usage. By utilizing energy efficient lighting, water conservation and proper ventilation, we decrease both energy and maintenance costs.

Michigan businesses are running much leaner today than five years ago. With only one place left to cut, many of our clients just needed a little guidance. Starting with lighting, building automation, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, businesses can begin down the path of sustainability. As efficiency cleans up their wasted energy, it makes way for renewables to be deployed. The money they save helps fund future projects to reduce costs, and also to add programs or expand offerings within their businesses.

In addition to the positive impact on the balance sheet through cost reduction, it’s creating jobs for skilled workers, and reducing harmful emissions. It’s really a working example that clean energy is an investment in Michigan’s future.

Since our initial energy efficiency and renewable energy laws took effect in 2008, Michigan workers have been hired and local economic development projects have flourished. The Michigan Public Service Commission reported in February that all major utilities are on track to meet the current renewable energy standard of 10 percent by 2015 and have met or exceeded projected savings from energy efficiency.

These are successful programs that should continue.

Our state has a rich manufacturing history and the entrepreneurial spirit to become a leader in the clean energy race. I witness the positive impact investments in clean energy can have on local businesses on a daily basis.

These energy forums must lead to direct action by our legislators to increase the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Michigan. Nearly 30 other states currently have stronger renewable energy or energy efficiency goals than Michigan.

Michigan residents spend more than $1.7 billion a year importing coal from other states because 60 percent of our electricity comes from coal. As a business owner, I would like to see this money stay here in our state.

The cost of all renewable energy technologies is now less than new coal generation and for every $1 spent on energy optimization, customers save $3.55 in avoided energy costs.

Clean energy is a sector that supports more than 20,500 jobs in the state and contributes to $5 billion a year to the economy. Increasing the use of clean energy will create jobs, spark investment, and give innovative, new businesses a chance to grow.

Our economy only stands to gain from a long-term energy policy that increases our commitment to clean energy.

Clean energy expansion in Michigan good for workers, businesses

About the author: Tim Pulliam is co-founder of Keen Technical Solutions in Traverse City.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by e-mailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.