The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum commissioned a study recently to determine what the impact of increased renewable energy would have on the state’s economy. Being conservatives, they are not concerned with the health of Michigan citizens or the fate or the Earth. Instead, their focus is strictly on the bottom line.
In the end, they were shocked — SHOCKED! — to find raising the amount of energy the state derives from renewable sources to 30% by 2027 would create more than 68,000 new jobs and have a gross economic impact on the state of more than $10 billion. Those are the kind of numbers that gladden the flinty hearts of conservatives. The residents of Flint may be drinking poisonous water but there’s money to be made from renewables. Who’d a thunk it, huh?
Most of the renewable energy envisioned by the study would come from solar and wind, according to Michigan Radio. “While environmental benefits often dominate energy policy dialogue, this study presents evidence of economic impact which should be considered in the context of likely return on investment.” writes The Hill Group, which prepared the study for the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum.
The report states that even though Michigan has established fairly modest renewable power standards, beginning with 10% by 2015 and 15% by 2021, “the falling cost of renewable energy sources combined with increasing customer demand for clean energy has driven Michigan utilities to invest in more renewable energy sources regardless of the RPS.”
“As policymakers begin to look beyond PA 342’s 2021 timeline, the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum believed it necessary to quantify the economic impact resulting from those efforts and the continued development of renewable resources in Michigan over the next ten years. This analysis focuses on the construction, operation, and maintenance activities of renewable energy capacity development, but does not include pre-construction activities or ancillary impacts including social or environmental externalities.” The study defines renewables as wind, solar, biomass, and landfill gas renewable technologies.
Notice that reference to “externalities,” as if clean water and clean air that promote better health and longer lives are just a “nice to have” bonus to go along with lower electricity prices and higher profits for utilities. The laser-like focus on profits by conservatives would make Silas Marner look like a foolish spendthift. So as long as the focus is on the bottom line, what is the bottom line? The study condensed its findings into the following table and they are extraordinary.
None of this should be at all surprising to regular CleanTechnica readers, but it is a welcome indication that even the staunchest conservatives are beginning to awaken from their long winter’s nap and smell the coffee. It’s one more sign that the renewable energy revolution is real and can no longer be halted, no matter how much huffing and puffing goes on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.