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Coal, natural gas keep Michigan warm during freezing storm

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(The Center Square) – Days of freezing temperatures and falling snow have knocked out power for more than 150,000 Michiganders and canceled school at multiple districts.

The Detroit Public Schools, Livonia Schools, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools and many other districts canceled school on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The storm tested Michigan’s infrastructure that is ranked worse than the national average.

Michigan aims for 100% renewable energy by 2040 but renewables often fail to provide a constant energy during negative temperatures when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

As of Jan. 16, the Midcontinent Independent System, which manages high-flow electricity across 15 states and the Canadian Province of Manitoba, shows the following energy sources keeping Michiganders warm:

Coal: 38,508 MWNatural Gas: 29,098 MWNuclear: 9,825 MWWind: 20,585 MWSolar: 2,647 MWOther: 1,852 MW

Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the recent winter storms that struck the Midwest “underscore the practical challenges of Michigan’s quest to rely solely on renewable sources.”

“Warnings of frozen wind turbines highlighted the vulnerability of these energy sources to extreme weather conditions,” Hayes wrote in an email. “Michiganders need reliable energy that isn’t dependent on cooperative weather. We’re currently seeing places like Hawaii and Alberta deal with the negative effects of a heavy reliance on wind and solar. It’s only a matter of time before Michigan is next.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called for Michigan to become a “national leader” for clean energy.

“These bills will help us make more clean, reliable energy right here in Michigan, creating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, and lowering utility costs for every Michigander by an average of $145 a year,” Whitmer said in a previous statement.

“Getting this done will also reduce our reliance on foreign fuel sources, while protecting our air, water and public health.”

One reason, some say, for population loss is Michigan’s regular infrastructure problems range from road pavement quality to unreliable electricity causing frequent, long power outages, to outdated water infrastructure such as sanitary sewers, stormwater and flood control.

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan report said efforts to attract residents from other states are “stymied in part by poorly maintained infrastructure, which is generally worse than national averages and surrounding states.”

A previous report estimated another 270,000 people will leave the state by 2050. The report found Michigan’s population growth is one-third of the national average.

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