Stepping Forward - Michigan

Michigan, home of the Still-Big Three, has been hit hard for a long time by economic conditions. Detroit especially has been hurt by suburban growth - large parts of its city neighborhoods have become urban prairie, lots and blocks reclaimed by nature.

So how should they move onwards?

In her recent State of the State address (related political word that also makes me giggle: gubernatorial), governer Jennifer Granholm promised a lot of things - the most significant of which, for me at this blog, is a near-moratorium on coal plants, and a promise to reduce fossil fuel-based energy 45% by 2020 (sounds familiar...).

And it's great! The Michigan State government has already halted production of about eight coal plants, and Skip Pruss (awesome name), director of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, said straight out that "Some of these will not be built."


Coal power, in case you didn't know, is incredibly dirty, and responsible for a huge percentage of carbon emissions. (And, for the record, it's much more difficult for the coal companies to Clean it, no matter what Obama said during the debates or what they say in their ads.) The only problem is that they create a lot of energy (hence, you know, the industrial revolution in the first place), so they're hard to phase out - and never mind the politics of it.

So that's coal - but what, exactly, would a 45% reduction in the next 11 years look like? When I first read it, I was like "Michigan is cutting its fossil fuel use almost in half, sweet!" but now I've gotta wonder (if only because I'm not that great at math!).

Using the mystical power of Google, I found a number for current Michigan fossil fuel usage for electricity - 69.5% (the source seems accurate - but even if it isn't, exact numbers aren't really that important for this exercise).

So, if fossil fuels are providing about 69.5 percent of your power generation and you reduce it by 45%, well - then you'll end up with only about 38% usage in 10 years. That's great, right?

It also means that Michigan has to find a way to fill in 38 million megawatt/hours per year without relying on fossil fuels. To put that in context, according to my Carma.org source, that'd be installing about 20 times as much renewable energy. That's a lot. Especially for a Northern state (not a lot of sunlight, doncha know).

But man, would it be some fresh air. I hope Michigan is up to it!

1 comment:

  1. Michigan, represent!
    Oh they're up to it. Don't you worry.