Editor’s Note: Experts are available in Michigan and Washington, D.C. to discuss this analysis

New analysis of Michigan’s power sector shows that the state can meet – and possibly even exceed – national carbon pollution standards that will be established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA is expected to announce emissions standards for new power plants later this month and additional standards for existing power plants in 2014.

This new analysis, conducted by the World Resources Institute, finds that, given Michigan’s progress to date, the state is in a good position to achieve these standards.

“Michigan is already moving toward a more robust, low-carbon economy, and is on a good pathway to lowering its carbon emissions,” said Michael Obeiter, a senior associate at WRI, who led the analysis. “Our analysis shows the potential for even greater reductions will create economic opportunities and reduce the emissions that drive climate change and endanger people’s health.”

Specifically, the analysis finds that Michigan can achieve a 33 percent emissions reduction by 2020 (below 2011 emissions levels) through a combination of existing state policies and improved use of existing infrastructure, enabling the state to meet strong emissions standards in the near-term. The new carbon pollution standards follow from the Climate Action Plan that President Obama unveiled in June 2013.

WRI’s analysis shows that existing state efficiency and renewable energy goals can position the Great Lakes State to reduce carbon pollution in line with the potentially stringent new standards.

Following are ways that Michigan can help meet these reductions.

Meeting existing state policy goals:

  • By meeting the 2008 Renewable Energy Standard (RPS) through in-state renewable energy generation, Michigan could reduce emissions 8 percent by 2020 compared to 2011 levels; and

  • By meeting its 2008 Energy Efficiency Standard (EES), Michigan could reduce its emissions by about 13 percent by 2020 compared to 2011 levels.

Using existing infrastructure to achieve further emissions reductions:

  • Currently, Michigan uses about 38 percent of its potential existing combined heat and power (CHP) capacity. Using an additional 25 percent of that capacity would reduce emissions by 4 percent in 2020 compared to 2011 levels; and

  • Increasing its utilization of combined cycle natural gas capacity to 75 percent would reduce Michigan’s emissions by 7 percent in 2020 compared to 2011 levels.

Consumer Energy’s recent decision to contract with local construction companies when it breaks ground on a new wind farm later this year demonstrates the economic opportunities the state has enjoyed from the steady growth in its clean energy sector. Consumer’s first wind farm in the state, the Lake Winds Energy Park, brought $10 million in economic benefits to the states, and the new project is also expected to boost the local economy.

“Michigan is in a strong position to comply with upcoming EPA standards for existing power plants,” Obeiter said. “In fact, our analysis suggests that even greater emissions reduction opportunities are possible by strengthening existing programs.”

The Michigan fact sheet is available here: http://www.wri.org/publication/power-sector-opportunities-for-reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-michigan