Forum: Enact more pro-renewable energy policy

MacInnes

The holidays are quickly approaching and both adults and children are getting in the spirit, hoping that wishes large and small come true this season.

As chief executive officer of Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa, I will be hoping for a package of a different size and scope under the tree — a package of pro-business, pro-renewable energy legislation signed, sealed and delivered on both a state and national level. Countless businesses, like mine, stand to benefit from policies that contribute to the falling prices of renewable energy.

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering legislation that would extend the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy products. The decision to do so could build on the tremendous success the policies have had nationwide. A five-year extension of the ITC alone would lead to 32 percent more solar deployment from 2016-2022. The growth would have a tremendous impact on jobs in Michigan, creating 31 percent more yearly employment opportunities. Alternately, if Congress fails to extend the ITC, solar deployment alone will drop 28 percent from 2016-17.

Pro-renewable legislation in Michigan has benefited businesses and ratepayers alike. That’s why Governor Snyder, a businessman himself, has championed a Michigan-first plan to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by increasing the amount of renewable energy produced in each state. Through the enactment of such legislation, Michigan would develop a state-specific plan to keep our state’s energy decisions local.

As our state legislature prepares to adjourn for the holidays, it weighs this Michigan-first plan among other energy policy options that would affect countless businesses here. Renewable energy businesses, which have seen our state as a tremendous place for growth in recent years, would be most dramatically impacted by pro-renewable energy policy. But businesses in countless other sectors would see the positive effects as well.

At Crystal Mountain, we’ve benefited from investing in renewable energy, which is not only good for the environment but also makes good business sense. Such investments provide a buffer against fluctuating oil, coal and gas prices. They also protect the natural resources that Crystal Mountain prides itself on providing its guests with access to — natural resources that make our great state a wonderful place to live, work and play.

Michigan has tremendous room for growth in the renewable energy sector. According to recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory modeling, Michigan could meet 47 percent of electricity needs with renewable power by 2030 in a high-demand growth scenario, attracting more than $9 billion in additional wages and benefits to the state during project construction and $276 million in annual wages and benefits during project operation.

Michigan’s renewable energy industries have grown rapidly in recent years, and they are just getting started. It is my hope this holiday season that federal and state policymakers alike will see the need to invest in the success of this industry. It makes good business sense for all.

About the author: Jim MacInnes is chief executive officer of Crystal Mountain Resort and is on the leadership council for the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum. He is also a licensed professional engineer and recently served as vice-chair of the electrical engineers professional association, the IEEE, national energy policy committee.

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 emailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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