Tom Steyer group claims win in Michigan energy sector

State utility companies said they'd move the goalpost closer for renewable energy targets.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  May 21, 2018 at 7:59 AM
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May 21 (UPI) -- NextGen America, a clean energy group led by billionaire Tom Steyer, said it scored a win in Michigan when utilities agreed to stronger goals for renewables.

Through its account on Twitter, NextGen America declared Saturday it scored a "big win for clean energy in Michigan" after the two main utilities there, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, agreed to work toward a closer goalpost on renewable energy.

From Missouri to California, the group has lobbied for more renewable energy while targeting U.S. President Donald Trump's ambition to pursue a policy of energy dominance. Steyer himself is also leading an effort to impeach the president.

Both utilities said they were responding to initiatives led by Steyer's group by committing to use renewable energy for 25 percent of their power mix for consumers by 2030. State law called for 15 percent renewables by 2021.

"Leveraging the already aggressive framework established in Michigan's 2016 bipartisan energy law, the state's two largest energy companies are advancing their plans to invest in Michigan," they said in a joint statement emailed to UPI during the weekend.

Consumers Energy in April said it would no longer be using coal as a power source by 2040. A "leaner vision," which the company said it would spell out in more detail later this year, calls for a greater emphasis on wind and solar power reserves.

DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson joined Consumers CEO Patti Poppe in saying both utilities are "overwhelmingly" in favor of renewable energy.

Michigan helped tip the Electoral College balance in favor of Trump in the November 2016 election. The Republican governor of the state, Rick Snyder, was criticized in 2016 for suspending state efforts with the national Clean Power Plan, a renewable energy effort led by former President Barack Obama.

Steyer was on hand for rallies in California earlier this year to protest a proposal by Trump's Environmental Protection Agency to repeal the Clean Power Plan.

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