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 3: Sustainability and Diversity, Paying it Forward

Concerns about sustainability and diversity in our national energy portfolio are not new.  Discussions on the reality of Global Warming and how to curb it continue. Reliance on foreign oil continues to be at the forefront of our economy. Regionally, manufacturing that once supported a large portion of our workforce remains under pressure.

Can you imagine what the concerns will be 20, 50, even 100 years from now?  Will we still be focused on the same issues...or will we have created the sustainable economic and energy portfolio of the future? I'm hopeful that our efforts today will pay it forward tomorrow.

None of us can be sure of what the future holds.  What I have seen, and am inspired by, however, is how many creative resources are committed to a future where the air we breathe is clean, where the world can support food and energy needs from local sources, and where people have the opportunity to engage in meaningful work.

On June 26, 2009, the US House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, House Resolution 2454.  Much like Michigan’s Act 295, its intention is ‘to create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.’  

One of the components to the national bill is a Carbon Cap and Trade System. Simply put, Carbon Cap and Trade puts a national limit on how much greenhouse gas the nation is allowed to emit and creates a national trading system for greenhouse gases.  Companies can "trade" allowances or "credits" between each other for the right to emit pollutants, turning these emissions into a commodity that can be bought and sold. In theory, this market will balance pollution reduction at the lowest possible cost.

Along with the Cap and Trade system, Act 2454 proposes a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) of 20% by 2020, starting with 6% by 2012. The proposed RES goal allows for several provisions such as Energy Efficiency credits in lieu of pursuing new renewable energy. These provisions have the potential to chip away at the 6% objective in 2012, taking the overall production from renewable generation to just 4.1%, a negligible increase over current levels.

Specifically, the House RES in H.R. 2454 would require roughly 5,000 to 6,000 MW of new renewable capacity on average per year between 2010 and 2021, but renewable capacity installed in 2008 alone was over 9,000 MW. Personally, I feel that a bolder National Energy Bill with a stronger emphasis on RES is needed to support investment in technology, manufacturing, and growth in diverse, renewable energy sources.  

Now is the time to understand the varying options and proposed legislation, so we can begin to resolve these issues today. Diversity and sustainability is the least we can provide for tomorrow's generation.