Research Finds that Expanding Local Clean Energy is Key to Hitting Michigan’s Decarbonization Targets

New data shows that distributed energy resources could save Michigan families nearly $800 annually

A report released today by Vote Solar reveals that Michigan’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050 is achievable — and that investing in distributed energy resources like solar is the lowest-cost path to get there. According to the new analysis by grid modeling experts Vibrant Clean Energy, building an electricity system that combines and efficiently leverages more local solar and batteries can save the state billions of dollars, while creating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. 

The analysis finds that accelerating the growth of local solar + battery storage on Michigan’s electric grid can save residential and commercial utility customers $773 per year, compared to resource plans proposed by Michigan utilities. Additionally, sustained investments in local solar and storage could create 159,000 full-time jobs in Michigan by 2045. 

The report comes as the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is soliciting public comments on its draft Healthy Climate Plan, a roadmap for meeting the Whitmer Administration’s carbon neutrality target. Public comments on the draft are due by Monday, March 14, and the plan is expected to be finalized by Friday, April 22. Vote Solar submitted comments emphasizing the Vibrant Clean Energy research and encouraging EGLE to incorporate the findings into the final plan.

“This research highlights the major role that distributed solar and storage should play in helping Michigan achieve its climate and clean energy goals,” says Will Kenworthy, Midwest Regulatory Director at Vote Solar. “The Whitmer Administration has already demonstrated a firm commitment to decarbonization. It’s our hope that the Administration will continue to pursue solutions that are backed by science and in the best interest of all Michigan residents. Distributed solar must be a central element of Michigan’s clean energy transition.” 

Vote Solar’s comments also express support for the renewable energy standard proposed by EGLE. “The data shows that EGLE’s 50% renewable energy standard by 2030 is a necessary benchmark to achieving carbon neutrality,” says Kenworthy. “We commend EGLE for recognizing the importance of renewable standards and hope to see it remain in the final version of the plan.” 

In addition to the money that local solar and batteries save the grid, distributed energy resources provide significant societal benefits, including: increased energy equity; greater individual and community resilience during blackouts and extreme weather; local job creation and economic activity; greater reductions in air pollution; the ability to achieve clean energy goals on a faster timeline; and the opportunity to provide consumers with a tangible and meaningful mechanism for mitigating climate change impacts.

The study was conducted using Vibrant Clean Energy’s WIS:dom®-P model, a state-of-the-art planning tool that uses advanced analytics to produce an inclusive picture of grid resources, costs and benefits. WIS:dom®-P analyzes trillions of data points, including every potential energy resource and the direct costs and benefits associated with bringing the most cost effective resource mix to the electric grid. The model takes into account and enhances the delivery of local solar and storage generation located closer to customers on the distribution side of the grid. National modeling with WIS:dom®-P demonstrated that optimizing the power grid for distributed energy resources (local solar and storage) results in the lowest cost transition to 100% clean electricity. 

On Monday, March 7, Vote Solar will host an informational webinar to thoroughly present the report’s findings and take questions. The webinar is open to the press and the public. Interested parties should register here.

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