News roundup: Steyer on climate change, Michigan's RPS a winner, and transmission for 1 million homes

Clean energy supporter Tom Steyer wants to make 2014’s elections all about climate change, Michigan’s RPS is boosting the state’s economy, and a new transmission project wants to bring wind power to the Southeast.

Tom Steyer, the well-known climate change policy advocate, has announced he plans to spend at least $100 million to bring the issue to the forefront of this year’s elections:

  • California billionaire Tom Steyer turned heads in Washington with the news that he plans to spend $100 million to help make climate change a defining issue in this year’s elections. But it gets even bigger: The hedge fund executive turned green activist might be willing to lay out even more than that eye-popping number, and he’s looking to spend it in places that are also important for 2016.
  • Steyer has told potential backers he has big plans. Those include trying to influence the debate about climate change in Senate races in Iowa and New Hampshire and the gubernatorial contest in Florida.
  • The New York Times first reported Monday that Steyer’s goal is to spend about $50 million of his own money and raise another $50 million from green-minded donors to use in 2014. NextGen officials confirmed those figures Tuesday but stressed that $100 million is not the ceiling for what Steyer’s PAC may spend this year.

A new report shows Michigan’s renewable portfolio standards are driving investment and creating jobs for Michiganders:

  • "Today's report by the MPSC shows that the cost of renewable energy continues to decline dramatically, and our lawmakers should see this as an opportunity to reduce electricity bills for families, businesses and communities," said Samantha Harkins, director of state affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. "Reducing the cost of electricity for communities means more money to invest in providing better basic services, creating vibrant communities and improving our quality of life."
  • "The report issued today by the MPSC shows that our current renewable energy standard has been a great success, drawing investment and creating jobs and opportunities," said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. "The report noted that the cost of wind has been cut in half since 2008 and continues to decline. And with energy prices being one of our biggest costs of doing business, increasing our renewable energy standard will reduce costs and make our agribusinesses more competitive."
  • "The clock runs out on Michigan's current renewable energy in 2015 and we need leadership from our legislators to continue this highly successful policy in order to reduce pollution," said Rory Neuner of MI Air MI Health. "I look forward to seeing legislative action in 2014 because transitioning… to clean energy will reduce illness, rein in health care costs and ultimately save lives."

A newly proposed transmission line will bring clean, abundant wind power from Cowboy country to the Southeast:

  • Clean Line Energy plans on building a 700-mile-long transmission system to deliver around 3,500 megawatts of wind power – enough energy to power around 1 million homes – generated in the Oklahoma panhandle to the Mid-South and the Southeast. The wind power generated in Oklahoma would be sent to the Tennessee Valley Authority system, which supplies Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division and dozens of other utilities.
  • The project would create 16 permanent jobs with an average salary of $56,875. The project qualifies for an 11-year PILOT, which would save the company around $24.2 million. However, the project would create around $36.2 million in new tax revenue.

Be sure to check out Tuesday’s roundup, 100 percent renewables for U.S., Google invests in clean energy, support for action on climate


Darren Goode, “Climate billionaire aims to set stage for 2016.” POLITICO. 18 February 2014.

Staff, “Groups: MPSC report shows renewable energy is huge success story in Michigan.” 17 February 2014.

Amos Maki, “Energy Company to Invest $260 Million in Shelby County.” Memphis Daily News. 18 February 2014.

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