MARYSVILLE, MI – State Representative Dan Lauwers, Michigan’s House Majority Floor Leader, and State Senator David Knezek, Michigan’s Senate Minority Caucus Chair, were joined by business leaders, labor leaders, policymakers and academia today in St. Clair County to discuss the need for bipartisan and sensible energy solutions for Michigan that includes the growth of all resources and the expansion of its pipeline infrastructure. Speakers discussed an array of hot-button energy issues and the importance of local development to the economy, job creation and Michigan’s competitiveness at today’s forum hosted by Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) at Alexander’s Banquet Facility in Marysville.
The event brought together the following business and labor leaders to share their perspectives on energy policy in the context of jobs, the economy, the environment and U.S. competitiveness:
- Justin Morren, Director of North Area Plants – DTE
- Peter Holran, Director, State Government Relations – Enbridge
- Lynn Coleman, Director of the Michigan Laborers Training and Apprenticeship Institute (MLTAI)
- Bruno Vanzieleghem, Assistant Director of Operations – University of Michigan Energy Institute
- Dan Casey, Executive Director, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County
- Brydon Ross, Vice President of State Affairs – Consumer Energy Alliance.
- Walt Dindoffer, Development Solutions Midwest
Per attendees, expanding the region’s energy infrastructure is a must-do for Michigan. State Representative Dan Lauwers said that “Investments in energy infrastructure aren’t just about providing electricity and natural gas to homes, it’s also about making sure our community is ready for the 21st century. We’re looking forward to DTE’s new natural gas plant and the positive impact it is going to have on our local economy.”
State Senator David Knezek echoed similar sentiments by stating, “At the end of the day, when we invest in Michigan’s infrastructure system, we are investing in ourselves. We are investing in our future. Most importantly, these investments create family-supporting jobs for the men and women of Michigan’s union skilled trades.”
Speaking to the importance of good-paying jobs for Michigan’s families to the region, Dan Casey, Executive Director, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, stated, “St. Clair County produces roughly one-third of all the energy in Metro Detroit, and we’re proud of that figure because it means good-paying jobs for residents. At the end of the day, the EDA’s mission is to create a vibrant local economy, and the upcoming energy infrastructure work does just that for your community.”
Lynn Coleman, Director, MLTAI, agreed with the importance of jobs and the appropriate training to ensure the future of Michigan’s energy infrastructure.
“The Michigan Laborers’ Training & Apprenticeship Institute makes sure our state’s skilled trade workers have the expertise to build safe and reliable energy infrastructure,” Coleman said. “We know that the public has high expectations when it comes to our energy infrastructure. That’s why we’re committed to making safety the most important aspect of our training programs.”
Peter Holran, Director of State Government Relations for Enbridge, discussed how Enbridge has been invested in St. Clair County for decades. “Enbridge is pleased to provide the infrastructure that delivers the energy resources that are processed into the many energy forms that keep Michigan’s families, businesses and economy moving forward,” he said. “Operating in Michigan and the region for more than 65 years, we remain committed to keeping the region’s communities and environment safe and protected while delivering the energy that matters every day.”
Chris Ventura, CEA’s Midwest Director, said he hopes voters remember the importance of energy infrastructure and jobs when they head to the polls next fall.
“Energy issues are critical to our region’s future, and we look forward to implementing our goals of improving energy infrastructure, ensuring energy independence and diversity and increasing access to more affordable, reliable energy,” he said. “This will help lower energy costs for families and small businesses across Michigan and provide stronger opportunities for manufacturers and businesses to create jobs.”
Speaking to the importance of providing reliable energy to the region, Justin Morren, with DTE, stated, “At DTE, we’re committed to providing cleaner, affordable and reliable energy for our 2.2 million customers, now and into the future. We are also committed to reducing carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050 by replacing coal-fired generation with cleaner sources of energy like 24/7 natural gas and renewables like wind and solar power. St. Clair County is an important part of our plans and we look forward to continuing to build our relationship with this community for generations to come.”
Echoing DTE’s comments about the importance of providing clean energy, Bruno Vanzielegham, with the University of Michigan Energy Institute, stated, “New energy storage technologies will be transformative for both transportation and the grid, and the two will be closely connected in the future. Electric vehicles offer the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if they are powered by clean and renewable electricity. High penetration of renewable electricity becomes much more feasible with energy storage as an integral part of the future grid.”
Brydon Ross, CEA’s Vice President of State Affairs dovetailed the conversation in regards to the state’s percentage of energy technologies and what’s being done to grow them effectively saying, “As solar continues to grow nationally and here in Michigan, it was a pleasure to talk to this well-rounded panel about the technological, business, and efficiency opportunities that come with the expansion of solar energy. The timing of the forum and CEA’s latest solar report helps to provide guidance and a better understanding of the current landscape of solar energy and electricity so policymakers can make more informed decisions about these ever-changing industries and their effects on families and businesses across Michigan.”
Walt Dindoffer with Development Solutions Midwest added to the discussion about the importance of energy to manufacturing. He stated, “Manufacturers use an enormous amount of energy to produce the goods that we use every day. I’ve worked with SEMCO Energy and local manufacturers to show them simple things that can increase their energy savings. It’s great to work with companies like SEMCO because they see benefits of energy efficiency and how it can help manufacturers prepare for future investments.”
About Consumer Energy Alliance
Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) brings together families, farmers, small businesses, distributors, producers and manufacturers to support America’s energy future. With more than 500,000 members nationwide, our mission is to help ensure stable prices and energy security for households across the country. We believe energy development is something that touches everyone in our nation, and thus it is necessary for all of us to actively engage in the conversation about how we develop our diverse energy resources and energy’s importance to the economy. Learn more at ConsumerEnergyAlliance.org.