On November 4, the American Wind Energy Conference held a state specific conference in East Lansing to discuss Michigan wind issues. The event, which attracted over 150 participants, ran all day at the Kellogg Center on the Michigan State University Campus.
Plenary sessions included a report on the information gathering effort on Michigan energy issues delivered by Steve Bakkal, Director of the Michigan Energy Office. AWEA staffers gave both the national wind update and the regional market update. The specifics of the Michigan situation were covered by representatives from Mackinaw Power LLC, the Michigan Public Service Commission, the Michigan Environmental Council, Consumers Energy, and DTE Energy.
The lunch speakers were Senators Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Senator Ron Widen of Oregon. This was followed by a lively double session of tabletop discussions covering topics such as technology developments, economic benefits, off-shore wind, natural gas future, supply chain/manufacturing, community wind, and siting issues to name a few.
Panel discussions in the afternoon focused on various aspects of the Michigan experience highlighting the 988 megawatts of installed wind turbines. The presentations were all short, timely, and stimulating, and fed the discussions during the breaks and in the hallways. There were individuals from all aspects of Michigan's alternative energy economy working to build on the "proof on concept" provided by the 2008 renewable portfolio standard mandate.
While conversations were cordial and restrained, the underlying current was about two questions:
What will happen to the Federal production tax credit for 2014 and beyond?
Will Michigan's renewable portfolio standard mandate be increased in the near term?