Blog: Mary Templeton

With Michigan Public Act 295 the state must obtain 10% of its energy from renewable sources by 2015. As the wind turbine blades turn, alternative energy employment is becoming a vast new horizon for the region. Mary Templeton, an Executive VP at Wind Energy Consulting and Contracting, explains her career switch from the auto industry to renewable energy, and Michigan's efforts to foster talent in this new field.

Post 2: Sustainability and Diversity in Michigan's Energy Portfolio

When you hear people talk about energy, you undoubtedly hear these questions.  How imperative is it to diversify our source of energy with renewable sources?  And how will a diversified portfolio of energy resources help to create a sustainable future in terms of the health of both the economy and our earth?  

Last October (2008), Michigan enacted Public Act 295 (PA 295).  This act requires our state's utilities to generate 10% of electricity from renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, tidal, etc.) by 2015.  The bill also required a Net Metering policy to be established, which allows consumers to 'spin the meter backwards'.  If you generate more power from renewable sources than you use, you get credit back from the utility on your next bill.  There are limits as to how much power you can generate, and different rates for various levels of power.  

The purpose of Act 295 is to promote the development of clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency to diversify energy resources, provide greater security by using state generated resources of energy, encourage private investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and to provide improved air quality. I think that if you ask most people these days, they would add the expectation of creating jobs in a growing industry.

Is this legislation enough to support diversity and sustainability in our economic and energy portfolio?  I believe it's a start.  

Since last year, there has been a lot of activity to support the intention of the Act, including putting net metering laws in place to create incentives for consumers to utilize their own renewable sources, creating an on shore and an off- shore Wind Board to study the potential for wind energy in Michigan, incentives on the state and federal level to support energy efficiency and renewable energy, stimulus funding, and green jobs initiatives. 

Next week (October 6-7), the  Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) Jobs and Energy Forum meets at Cobo Hall. "In order to transform the Midwest from rust to green", the MGA, including Governor Granholm, will meet to identify strategies to create the new energy economy.

Every where I turn, I see examples of companies, universities, non-profit organizations, and individuals committed to developing a clean energy economy in our state, such as Next Energy which was created in 2002 to become one of the nation's leading catalysts for alternative and renewable energy. I see architects like A3C in Ann Arbor creating an UrbEn Retreat and renovating their building with a green roof, a geothermal system, and several other sustainable changes to become LEED – CI Gold certified.  I see the Monroe based IHM Sisters investing in geothermal system to reduce their heating costs, a greywater collection system to reduce water use, and an impressive renovation that reused or recycled much of the existing facility.  

Just a few weeks ago, the announcement about a renewable energy park at the Ford Wixom plant came out.  As you listen to what's going on in our region, look for evidence of how we are diversifying our energy sources and our economic portfolio.  I see evidence that supports a distributed, diverse portfolio of several energy sources and economic drivers that will sustain us well into the future.