The Traverse City area is rapidly growing, thanks in part to a budding entrepreneurial climate bolstered by an unusually strong rural business community. This is no time to rest on our laurels, though. To remain a viable economic center, the region must continue to support policies and strategies that will benefit businesses and families alike. One such example is contained in Senate Bills 437 and 438 – a comprehensive energy policy recently passed by the Michigan Senate that helps ensure Michigan residents have access to reliable, affordable and clean energy; Michigan energy.
As the CEO of TraverseCONNECT, my feet are firmly planted in both the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and Venture North, our private economic development division that serves northwest Lower Michigan. TraverseCONNECT is also part of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance, which has more than 7,000 member businesses from Cadillac to Alpena to Marquette and nine chambers in between. In this context, I join other business leaders in urging the Michigan House to act swiftly in support of Michigan-first legislation to safeguard Michigan’s energy future.
All of the stakeholders represented by TraverseCONNECT, as well as the surrounding communities and residents, depend on access to reliable, affordable and clean energy. As the Michigan energy grid is evolving, SB 437 and 438 contain elements critical to ensuring Michigan controls its energy future. Among the extensive benefits the plan will provide are assurances that Michigan responsibly replaces coal plants that are scheduled to close and that need to close. Coal-fired power plant closures are already occurring across Michigan. The legislation helps to ensure that reliable energy is never in question by guaranteeing Michigan responsibly, and cost-effectively, replaces the closed plants.
Businesses in Traverse City, like their counterparts throughout Michigan, also depend on affordable power. Energy is already among their major expenses, but price spikes threaten to make it even greater. By ensuring a strong, certain energy supply, businesses can effectively plan their budgets to maximize resources to serve their customers. Uncertainty is among the greatest deterrents to economic strength.
Finally, the legislation charts a clean energy future for Michigan. As a state, we have already made significant strides bolstering our energy grid with multiple clean, renewable sources. For example, utility-scale solar fields and wind farms have helped Michigan go well beyond its renewable goals established in the 2008 energy law.
SB 437 and 438 are Michigan-first bills. We appreciate the support of our area members serving in Michigan’s Senate, and urge their esteemed House Member colleagues to vote yes on companion legislation to SB 437 and 438.