This guest post is from Patrick “Shorty” Gleason, Legislative Director for the Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council.
Infrastructure impacts everyone. And while most of us see the need to invest in our roads and bridges, one of the largest infrastructure needs in our state is less visible.
How often do you think about the mazes of pipeline carrying natural gas to our homes and businesses, or the power plant generating electricity to support our latest technology or industry? Yet just like our roads and bridges, Michigan’s energy infrastructure is essential to economic prosperity and future growth.
Michigan is on the brink of the largest investment in energy infrastructure since World War II. Utilities are replacing mains, upgrading circuits and redesigning substations. As coal plants reach retirement and we move toward a balanced mix of renewables, natural gas and nuclear, utilities will need to invest in new plants, windfarms and solar arrays.
Our highly skilled trade and construction workers are central to modernizing Michigan’s energy infrastructure. Michigan’s largest utility, DTE Energy, recently filed a petition with the Michigan Public Service Commission to build a natural gas-fired plant in St. Clair County. The nearly $1 billion project is scheduled to break ground in 2019, creating hundreds of Michigan jobs during construction. In addition to the projected 520 jobs and 1.5 million work hours, the county and state will gain supply chain, tax base and reliability benefits that come with in-state power generation.
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has 270 days to review the filing and issue an order to grant or deny the requested Certificate of Necessity (CON). Consistent with the energy legislation passed in 2016, proposed projects must represent the most reasonable and prudent means of meeting the energy needs of customers, and source labor from Michigan to the extent possible.
Approving requests to keep jobs in our state is critical to our economy, and a way to give back to hardworking families in Michigan. Building Michigan’s next generation of energy infrastructure is a task we’re eager to take on, ensuring our state’s, communities’ and families’ continued economic growth.