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MCEF Announces Hire of New Program Administrator

LANSING — The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) announced today the hiring of Joanna Lewis as its new program administrator. In this role, Lewis will support a variety of communications and programming efforts, including the organization’s newly launched Youth Fellowship Program. 

A Michigander originally, Lewis’s political career commenced in Alaska in 2013 as a legislative aide for former State Representative Bob Lynn (R – Anchorage). Most recently she served as a Civil Deputy Clerk for the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University.

MCEF works to educate the public and policymakers on the immense economic and security benefits of diversifying Michigan’s energy portfolio and moving towards a true “All of the Above” generation mix, with an emphasis on transitioning to cleaner and more renewable forms of energy.

“On behalf of our entire Leadership Council, we are excited to welcome Joanna to MCEF,” said Larry Ward, MCEF executive director. “Joanna’s communications, social media management, and policy research experience will help our organization immediately, and I’m certain she will be a valuable member of our team.”

“As a Lansing native, I am thrilled to be back in Michigan, working to highlight the voice of conservatives on clean energy,” said Lewis. “Conservatives have much to offer to the state energy debate, including ideas to help expand the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as to strengthen Michigan’s position as a national leader in attracting clean energy jobs and investment. MCEF has a strong reputation as a clean energy thought leader, and I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Dr. Gary Wolfram Testifies on Electric Utility Industry

Wolfram discusses incentive problems and legislative solutions

LANSING – Dr. Gary Wolfram, the director of economics at Hillsdale College, testified yesterday in front of the Michigan House Energy Policy Committee on the issues inherent in Michigan’s current electric utility industry structure and how changes in incentives and legislation could better promote innovation and drive economic growth.

Citing his white paper Improving Michigan’s Electric Utility Industry, commissioned by the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) in 2015, Dr. Wolfram pointed out flaws in misplaced incentives that lead to problems such as significant barriers to entry in the power generation industry, as well as the lack of incentives to allow a new generator of electricity into a utility market. There are also missed opportunities in aspects of energy efficiency, with little to no incentives for utilities to encourage customers to conserve electricity or avoid peak usage times. These misplaced incentives limit both innovations in Michigan’s energy industry as well as proper competition in the marketplace that keeps costs low for ratepayers, ensures efficiency, and responds to consumer demands.

“The problem is the incentives are misaligned with the best resource use, and dampen the innovative urge that has created such wealth in our market economy,” said Wolfram. “If Michigan can develop an electric utility industry that is a leader in cost efficiency and innovation, it will benefit all Michigan citizens as well as the out-of-state customers of our manufacturing and service sectors.”

Possible solutions to these issues, according to Dr. Wolfram, are expanding retail choice and competition, further structurally separating the electric industry by separating ownership of distribution and generation from a single utility company’s control, and enhancing consumers’ ability to purchase renewable energy.

MCEF issued the following statement today in response to Dr. Wolfram’s testimony:

“We appreciate Dr. Wolfram addressing these important concerns with the committee,” said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. “Some of the current incentives and policies in place are not driving innovation and growth in Michigan as they can - and should - be. While national and regional electricity prices are falling, Michigan rates continue to steadily climb. While we have made progress recently with the passage of Public Acts 341 and 342, which aim to address some of these problems outlined by Dr. Wolfram, Michigan still has a ways to go to become a national leader in energy. MCEF looks forward to continuing its work with policymakers, stakeholders, and the public to further improve our state’s energy and economic landscapes.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Michigan Conservative Energy Forum applauds DTE plan to expand investment in renewable energy

LANSING – The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum issued the following statement today regarding DTE Energy’s plan to shutter all its coal plants by 2040, generating 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources:

“We applaud DTE Energy for committing to accelerate investments in clean, renewable energy,” said Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum. “An increasingly diversified energy portfolio will not only protect against the price volatility of fuel, but will contribute to our national and grid security and help lower electric rates for families and businesses. By building more renewable energy in Michigan, DTE is also helping to make our state more competitive. This is a welcome announcement for businesses that are looking to put down roots in Michigan and manage their energy costs long-term.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MCEF Announces New Addition to Leadership Council

LANSING — Today the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) announced the addition of Matthew Hauser to its Leadership Council. Hauser has a strong background in grassroots mobilization and politics; he is currently serving his third term on the Michigan Republican State Committee for the 13th Congressional District and also coordinates the Grassroots USA Pizza and Politics networking meetings throughout the state. He is pursuing his Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law.

The MCEF Leadership Council is comprised of conservative leaders who believe Michigan needs to diversify its energy portfolio and move towards a true “All of the Above” generation mix, with an emphasis on transitioning to cleaner and more renewable forms of energy.

“The MCEF team strives every day to educate the public and policymakers on the benefits of Michigan’s clean energy economy,” said Larry Ward, Executive Director of MCEF. “Benefits like energy independence, lower rates, and the creation of thousands of jobs across the state are what we as an organization hope to help achieve, and we are always looking to engage with passionate individuals like Matt who share our values. With a strong background in advocacy and activism, Matt is a welcome addition to our Leadership Council. We look forward to working with him to broaden our grassroots outreach across the state.”

“The future of our energy production is not a Right vs. Left issue,” said Matthew Hauser, MCEF Leadership Council Member. “Energy is an issue that impacts us all no matter our political affiliation and it is critical we work together to find the safest, cleanest, and most efficient ways to power tomorrow. Being a good steward of the environment, while reducing energy waste, is just the right thing to do."

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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New bipartisan energy laws are a win for Michiganders

LANSING – Members of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum today applauded the implementation of Public Acts 341 and 342, the comprehensive energy package passed with strong bipartisan support in the state legislature in December. The legislation continues Michigan’s transition to homegrown, clean renewable energy and will help to create jobs, lower electric rates, and diversify our electric portfolio.

“These laws diversify our energy portfolio and call for further investment in clean energy sources that are immune to fuel price volatility, which will help to rein in electricity costs for ratepayers in the coming years, while also strengthening our grid security and national security,” said Larry Ward, MCEF executive director. “We are grateful to the legislature, Governor Snyder, and the Michigan Agency for Energy for their work over the last couple years in crafting this bipartisan energy package that is truly a win for Michigan families and businesses. We are especially thankful for the leadership shown by Senator Mike Nofs throughout the process, and would also like to recognize Senator Dale Zorn for his support of the 15% renewable portfolio standard.”

Public Acts 341 and 342 call for an increase in the state’s renewable portfolio standard from 10% to 15% by 2021, establish a combined goal of 35% renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2025, and remove caps on energy efficiency spending by utilities, among other measures.                                                                                 

“Removing the two percent spending cap on energy efficiency incentives is an endorsement of the effect of energy efficiency on energy policy,” said Vytau Virskus, principal and founder of Millenium Energy Company and MCEF Leadership Council Member. “By increasing incentives to promote more focus on energy efficiency, we can not only reduce the demand on our electrical grid in the near term, but also mitigate the increase of electricity costs to Michigan ratepayers to ensure more affordable electricity into the future.  Energy efficiency is a key element of a comprehensive energy policy.”

The energy package also effectively maintains the status quo of the current solar net-metering program, now called distributed generation, until 2020.


“These energy laws move the needle forward on solar policy but more work needs to be done,” said Ed Rivet, one of Michigan’s top conservative political activists and MCEF Leadership Council Member. “MCEF looks forward to participating in the Michigan Public Service Commission solar work group to ensure the continued success of a significant job-producing industry that is good for our state economy and our environment.”    

Ward concludes: “These laws will help make our state more competitive, attracting significant investment and jobs. We applaud lawmakers for sending clear market signals that Michigan is a state where innovators and entrepreneurs can thrive.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MCEF Announces New Addition to Leadership Council

LANSING — Today the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) announced the addition of Vytau Virskus to its Leadership Council. Virskus is the Principal Founder at Millenium Power Company. He has over 35 years of experience in power generation, energy management, and building automation. Additionally, Virskus has helped school districts, universities, and hospitals achieve more than $30 million in energy savings to date. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

The MCEF Leadership Council is comprised of conservative leaders who believe Michigan needs to diversify its energy portfolio and move towards a true “All of the Above” generation mix, with an emphasis on transitioning to cleaner and more renewable forms of energy.

“MCEF continually strives to work with individuals who are passionate about transforming Michigan’s energy landscape,” said Larry Ward, Executive Director of MCEF. “With Vytau’s addition to our Leadership Council, today we acquire not only someone interested in promoting conservative energy solutions, but a long-standing leader in Michigan’s energy industry. With his decades of technical and policy expertise, Vytau will help bolster our organization’s education and outreach efforts. We are excited to work with him and learn from his experiences.”

“I look forward to working with the MCEF team and my fellow Leadership Council members to promote cost-effective, clean, and efficient energy for Michigan residents and businesses,” said Vytau Virskus, MCEF Leadership Council Member. “Energy efficiency is not too lofty of a goal; it’s the easiest and cheapest form of energy because it is energy we don’t use - an avoided cost. It’s important that we continue to invest in energy efficient technology now to reap the future rewards, like lower electric bills and even less reliance on our electric grid. Environmental prudence, together with economic and social benefit, must be applied to both the production of energy, and its use.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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Clean Energy Legislation, Ratepayer Protection Focus of MCEF’s 3rd Annual Catalyst Conference

LANSING – The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum’s (MCEF) 3rd Annual Catalyst Conference, “Charting Michigan’s Energy Future”, held today at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing, engaged around 100 energy, business, and conservative leaders in conversations on the future of Michigan’s clean energy landscape, the importance of lowering electric rates for consumers, and encouraging the diversification of our energy portfolio.

“Michigan has made great strides in recent years to secure affordable, reliable, and environmentally sustainable energy for all Michiganders,” said Larry Ward, MCEF Executive Director. “With the recent passage of Public Acts 341 and 342, we continue our transition to clean, homegrown energy but there is more room for improvement. MCEF will work in 2017 to educate policymakers and the public on the benefits of localized power generation, the importance of ratepayer protection, and the technological advancements occurring each day that are powering our clean energy economy.”                                                                                

The conference featured a panel of experts in public policy, solar energy advocacy, consumer protection, and renewable energy production, including: state Senator Tom Casperson (R – 38th district); Tyson Grinstead, Southeast Director of Public Policy at Sunrun; Michael Moody, Assistant Attorney General and State Public Administrator; and Marc Pauley, Commodities Manager at Granger Energy Services.

State Representative Gary Glenn (R – 98th district), Chair of the Michigan House of Representatives Energy Policy Committee, delivered the keynote address.

“Michigan needs diverse energy sources and competition in the marketplace,” said Representative Glenn. “I promise that the House Energy Policy Committee will work the next two years to do everything we can to bring down the cost of electricity for Michigan ratepayers.”

Public Acts 341 and 342 increase the scope and funding for the Utility Consumer Participation Board to intervene in electric rate cases on behalf of ratepayers. Michigan currently has some of the highest electricity rates in the Midwest.

“Michigan businesses and families not only face high electric rates, but data shows that the prices we pay are not commensurate with the level of reliability provided by our state-regulated utilities,” said Jim MacInnes, Chairman of the Utility Consumer Participation Board and MCEF Leadership Council Member. “In fact, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, Michigan ranks the worst in the Midwest for average power outage time per customer. I look forward to working with the UCPB and MCEF over the next year to ensure that Michigan ratepayers have increasingly reliable and affordable energy.”

MCEF believes in an “all of the above” energy approach that emphasizes homegrown clean energy and energy efficiency to stimulate the economy, create jobs, and increases our national and grid security.

“As a nation, we want to be energy independent, and as consumers, we increasingly want to be self-reliant and control our own electricity use,” said Tyson Grinstead, Southeast Director of Public Policy at Sunrun. “Solar net-metering is one tool to accomplish both – providing homegrown, renewable energy that lessens our dependence on foreign oil – while also allowing ratepayers to produce their own power and control their monthly energy bills.”

A national post-election clean energy poll commissioned by the Conservative Energy Network found that 86% 0f all voters polled – including 75% of Trump voters – support taking “action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy.”

“With 34 Republican governorships, 25 Republican state trifectas, and overwhelming public support for clean energy development across the country, our conservative messaging is not only needed but desired,” said Mark Huizenga, MCEF Board President, Mayor of Walker, MI, and owner of Key Green Solutions. “We’ve made a lot of progress these past three years educating Michiganders on the economic and security benefits of clean energy and energy efficiency. We look forward to forging a path ahead over the next year that builds upon this progress and continues to position Michigan as a national energy leader.”

Ward concludes: “I hope this conference proves to be a catalyst for new ideas, grassroots action, and further improvements to our energy landscape in the upcoming year. MCEF looks forward to working with the Michigan House and Senate, Governor Snyder, Michigan Agency for Energy, and various other energy stakeholders to build on our past successes and ensure abundant, cheap, and clean energy for decades to come.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’ economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

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MCEF Applauds Michigan Legislature for Passage of Bipartisan Energy Legislation

LANSING — Today, in response to the state legislature’s passage of a comprehensive energy package that increases the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 15 percent, improves energy efficiency programs and positions Michigan to expand its clean energy economy, members of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum (MCEF) Leadership Council issued the following statements:

“We applaud the Michigan Legislature for passing legislation that will ensure Michigan maintains an ‘all of the above’ energy policy for years to come,” said Larry Ward, Executive Director of MCEF. “By increasing the state’s successful renewable energy standard, this legislation will help to further strengthen and diversify our energy mix, rein in costs and protect ratepayers and small businesses from the price volatility of traditional fuel sources. By passing SB 437 and 438, Michigan is better positioned today than it was yesterday to compete for jobs and investment in our nation's clean energy transition."

“The Michigan Legislature has shown great leadership today,” said Hank Fuhs, Secretary of the Michigan GOPand MCEF Leadership Council Member. “This bipartisan energy legislation will help spur investment in the state’s growing renewable energy and energy efficiency industries, attract good-paying local jobs, and improve our economy.”

“We applaud the legislature for taking action to improve the language protecting net metering policy," said Ed Rivet, one of Michigan’s top conservative political activists and MCEF Leadership Council Member. “While this is a step in the right direction for the solar industry, we still have more work ahead of us to protect the trajectory of renewable energy in Michigan, and to ensure the growth of our energy economy and that ratepayer’s benefit for generations to come.”

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About MCEF: The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is an organization comprised of conservatives who believe that Michigan should adopt a true “All of the Above” energy policy that includes an increase in our commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency. MCEF believes encouraging diverse and local energy production and reduced energy waste will create jobs and stimulate Michigan’s economy, reduce our reliance on foreign energy, improve our national security, and protect our valuable natural resources. http://www.micef.org/

 

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Performance standards can reign in electricity costs for 2016 ratepayers

2016 will be a critical year for energy in Michigan. Our clean energy policy sunset at the end of last year, and the Michigan legislature has a true opportunity to set us on a path toward a more affordable energy future by passing performance standards for Michigan utility companies.

Michigan has the highest electricity costs in the Midwest; that hits families’ pocketbooks and makes our businesses less competitive. Every additional dollar spent to keep the lights on means less money spent at local businesses, and less investment in Michigan workers.

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Expect to Pay More for Holiday Lighting Under Rate Hike

However, the The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum said the rate increase shows the need for increased energy efficiency and reliance on renewables in the energy overhaul the Michigan Legislature is considering.

“Michigan already has the highest electricity costs in the Midwest and this latest rate increase should be a call to action for the Michigan Legislature to rein in costs through energy efficiency and renewable energy goals,” Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF, said in a statement. “Now is the time for conservatives to lead by requiring the utilities to reduce energy waste and purchase low-cost renewable energy.”

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Forum: Enact more pro-renewable energy policy

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.

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DTE to raise electric rates by more than $8 per month next week

The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum said in a statement that the rate increase drove home a need for increased energy efficiency and renewables in an energy overhaul the legislature is considering.

"Michigan already has the highest electricity costs in the Midwest and this latest rate increase should be a call to action for the Michigan Legislature to rein in costs through energy efficiency and renewable energy goals," said Larry Ward, executive director of MCEF. "Now is the time for conservatives to lead by requiring the utilities to reduce energy waste and purchase low-cost renewable energy."

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Report: Michigan clean-energy supply chain thriving, but threatened

The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, a Republican-led group pushing for more clean energy development in the state, earlier this year pegged total investment at $2.2 billion and supporting 6,000 jobs. The group issued a report in 2014 saying that a renewable portfolio of 20 percent by 2025 would result in a total output of over $6.5 billion, support more than 41,000 job years and create $2.11 billion in employee compensation.

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Comply and resist: Snyder, Schuette approach Clean Power Plan differently

“Regardless of the Clean Power Plan, we need to move forward on Michigan’s energy future and laws that pertain to it,” said Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum.

The MCEF has lobbied in support of expanding Michigan’s renewable production and energy efficiency as part of an “all-of-the-above” energy policy.

Ward said Michigan’s energy policy as it relates to federal compliance is on two tracks — a legal one and a legislative one. His group is “following the track of the governor right now” and is not weighing in “one way or the other” on the legality of the Clean Power Plan.

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College Republicans talk perception of GOP energy policy

The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum spoke to the University’s chapter of College Republicans on Thursday about energy policy and its relationship with bipartisanship.

The event, held in the Michigan Union, focused on the activities of the MCEF, which was formed in 2013 in response to the impending expiration of a number of energy bills

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Wolfram: Legislature should incentivize utilities

Governor Snyder and the Michigan Legislature are currently debating the state’s future energy policy. How electricity is generated, transmitted and distributed is important to every mid-Michigan resident – because one thing we all have in common, is that we all use energy.

Recognizing the importance of this debate, I released a white paper for the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum entitled Improving Michigan’s Electric Utility Industry. Groups on all sides of the current energy policy debate have been able to use some of the ideas in the paper and I would like to clarify them. Considering that the state is likely to continue operating in a regulated market for the immediate future, our elected officials need to at least establish incentives for electric utilities that will improve efficiency in the market and keep costs down.

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Beth Soholt Moderates Michigan Wind Vision Roundtable

Wind on the Wires’ Executive Director Beth Soholt moderated a roundtable discussion on October 8 that highlighted the new report “A wind vision for new growth in Michigan” at Macomb Community College, where students are learning skills that will help them obtain good-paying jobs in the renewable energy industry across the region.

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'Green Tea' Party? Far right Republicans, liberal Democrats aligning on Michigan renewable energy issue

Green Tea Party has a certain ring to it, but Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Executive Director Larry Ward said it was sort of a misnomer for what's going on in Michigan.

Ward's group advocates for renewable energy based on jobs and economic grounds. It's definitely not the global warming perspective green groups come from, but on issues like renewable energy or the net metering package, they end up aligning.

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