Renewable Energy in Michigan

Jack Walsh
June 10, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2017


Fig. 1: Wind farms are concentrated along the coastline of Michigan. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In 2008, Michigan enacted the Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act which mandated that electricity providers must have 10% of their sales be from renewable energy sources. This helped set a standard for the state to push for being more environmentally responsible, and make use of its resources in order to use them more efficiently. [1] Michigan's biggest producer of renewable energy is wind energy. Most of Michigan's wind farms lie along the shorelines of the Great Lakes, as can be seen in Fig. 1. In total there are 24 wind farms that together produce about 1,600 megawatts of power. Because of this, Michigan is a top 15 state in installed wind capacity and in electricity generated by wind in large part because of how much coast line there is along the state. Most of these wind farms were developed following the Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act. This bodes well for the future, as the costs of wind energy have so far been below what had been expected. [2]


According to Consumers Energy, Michigan's major natural gas and electricity provider, Michigan has continued to make progress in using more renewable energy. In 2016, Consumers produced, from generation capacity it owned, 16.7 TWh (6.01 × 1016 Joules) of electricity, of which 1.06 TWh (3.89 × 1015 Joules), or 6.5%, was renewable. [3] From generation capacity it did not own, Consumers supplied 19.6 TWh of energy, 11.4% of which was renewable. [3] In 2015, the 10% standard that was set in 2008 was reached. There is now talk of repealing the hard 10% mandate and setting a goal to reach 35% of the state's electric needs by using renewable energy. Setting the standards higher should keep this trend increasing, and we can expect to see more wind farms, solar panels, etc. installed in Michigan in the near future.

© Jack Walsh. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] S. Gomberg, J. Deyette, and S. Sattler, "Charting Michigan's Renewable Energy Future," Union of Concerned Scientists, March 2014.

[2] J. Johnson et al., "Expanding the Renewable Portfolio Standard for Michigan," University of Michigan Energy Institute, 12 Dec 14.

[3] P. K. Poppe et al., "Consumers Energy Annual Report 2016," Consumers Energy Corporation, 7 Feb 17.