Where's Michigan's Green Power Proposal

The new power plant proposed in Midland, MI will have "a stack for emissions, a cooling tower and a boiler that will look like a giant box," according to a report published today on ourmidland.com. What the facility apparently will not have is solar panels, wind turbines, or any other sort of green energy technology hyped by the state's politicians these days.

"We have a choice," Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm recently said announcing a new ethanol plant in Lansing. "We can invest in things like alternative energy that can strengthen our 21st century economy, or we can disinvest and drop out of the race for economic success."

Michigan talks a big game when it comes to energy innovation. But there's little substance or action to back up the words coming out of the state capitol. There's no official policy to deploy renewable power sources. There are few financial incentives to encourage investment in alternatives beyond coal or natural gas. Heck, there isn't even a policy to encourage basic energy conservation, which is perhaps the most economical and environmentally sensitive strategy to meet the state's near-term energy needs.

Neighboring Great Lakes states are discovering that aggressive action to promote energy innovation is not only a legitimate response to climate change, terrorism, and rising energy demand. Investment in green power sources, they're finding, can also help restart the region's entrepreneurial spirit, spark renewed investor interest in the Rust Belt, and promote a 21st century-style economic agenda.

"There is something interesting going on here," Norman Polanski, the mayor of Lackawanna, NY, said about the $40 million Steel Winds farm now up and running on the former site of Bethlehem Steel. "And finally it's all good. Finally, Western New York has got the limelight."

Meanwhile, Michigan seems content to accept the energy innovations of the century past, instead of investing in, developing, and deploying the power supplies of the future.

Maybe a new coal plant in Rogers City. Maybe a new coal plant in Bay City. Maybe a new nuclear plant in Newport. Now maybe a new coal plant in Midland.

When will the news from the Great Lakes State read 'maybe rooftop solar stations in Detroit,' 'maybe a cutting edge, energy generating waste water treatment plant in Saginaw,' or 'maybe a wind farm on Michigan's West Coast'? Can't yet find the hyperlinks to those kinds of inspiring stories.

"The flurry of new proposed coal plants will test Michigan's commitment to the twin goals of energy independence and climate change solutions like nothing else," David Holtz, the director of Clean Water Action's Michigan office, said in response to news of the proposed Midland project. "Many elected leaders in Michigan give lip service to global warming, but what we will watch is their actions."

"What rules will they pass for permitting new utility plants," Holtz asks. "Will they honestly evaluate Michigan's future energy needs or buy into the utility industry's desire to line up as many coal plants as possible before Congress passes stricter rules on carbon emissions? Will they try to foist upon the public the unproven technology of 'clean coal' (there is, it turns out, no such thing today) as their choice for new energy capacity instead of efficiencies, wind, solar, etc?"