Renk will be interviewing State Senator Mike Nofs from the 9th State Senate District at 9:15 am this morning concerning the Energy bills in the Senate. Senator Nofs serves Barry, Calhoun, and Ionia Counties.

MI's current energy statutes were last updated in 2008. As a member of the House of Representatives, Sen. Nofs was a key architect of HB 5524, one of three bills in the energy package dealing with the regulation of gas and electric utilities and the provisions of the choice market.

In 2008, renewable energy and energy efficiency were the buzzwords and many states were beginning to adopt strategies to facilitate their development. MI adopted a renewable energy mandate of 10% of retail sales by 2015 and also adopted a graduated energy efficiency standard that today requires utilities to achieve annual incremental savings of 1% of their retail sales. Both of which have been achieved.

Under Gov. Granholm and the Democrat-controlled House there was also a push to re-regulate MI's electric market which had been fully de-regulated since 2000. Sen. Nofs was able to negotiate keeping 10% of the market open to retail choice. Otherwise, MI would currently be a fully regulated state like most others in our energy region (MISO- Midcontinent Independent System Operator. MISO operates the energy grid).

Today, the environment around energy is much different. Due to actions by the federal government, hundreds of coal plants are shutting down. This is causing a tremendous shift in energy production to natural gas and renewables which requires expensive new construction and expansion of our transmission system. In addition, cheap natural gas has caused other types of electric generating plants (nuclear, hydro, biomass) to become less profitable to run, resulting in a number of them shutting down or announcing shut downs as well. Cumulatively, these plant closures could have a significant impact on the availability and reliability of electricity that we've come to take for granted.

Let’s talk about this today on The Live with Renk Show which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon. To let me know your thoughts during the show please call (269) 441-9595.

Or please feel free to start a discussion and write your thoughts in the comment section.