Energy Policy – Dear Legislator

As you grapple with a perceived need for a new or modified long term energy plan, please allow me some observations.

First, there is no shortage of energy and there will not be.

Energy is plentiful in numerous forms, some you may not have heard of yet. The question is, which technology to use when? That should be decided by a free market – supply and demand. When (if) solar and wind becomes cost effective and solar panels repairs afforded by everyone, it will be used without government force. End monopolies and regulations that protect favored suppliers, and unleash technology, investment and alternatives.

In effect, SB 437 and SB 438 would perpetuate, extend and exacerbate the equivalent of Michigan’s OPEC. Two companies that charge Michigan energy users much more than appropriate, want you to sanction their monopolistic practises and lock in failed energy policies. DTE, e.g., is selling energy in Ohio at about half the amount they charge Michiganders.

The voters spoke on November 8, for a President-elect who promised to deregulate the very scare and radical policies that these bills would lock into place for decades. It is bad policy, and we ask you to reject it. Allow the new Republican Administration to look at and change policies before to close out our options, please!

Energy properly has very limited government purview. God creates, and has provided all the energy we will ever need. Government cannot properly regulate weather, and natural causes effect climate at rates that dwarf human activities. Similarly, government needs to recognize its very limited purview in energy. He reveals and allows new technologies to offer more alternatives, at HIS pace as He observes our needs. Geothermal technology (e.g. fracking) is but one example of sources being unlocked at God’s pace. The inability (and questionable public policy) of consuming hydrogen for transportable energy is another. Here is but one of many possible new sources in our future:

I served as Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for the conservation and renewable energy program at U.S. Department of Energy in Reagan’s first term. In that capacity I observed and oversaw much of the Nation’s energy research, technologies and development from a unique perspective. I had trusted access to both public and private research and technology, something not normally available to either. We wrote the National Program Plan for Energy that is valid and being (partially) implemented to this day.

My profession is architectural engineering and construction management, but getting there involved working my way through college in science and technology while designing and engineering things from automotive, manufacturing tools, machines and equipment, aerospace, power transmission, and stints as Chief Metallurgist and Engineering Group Supervisor for a high technology manufacturing division of Dana Corporation, In our design/build firm we have performed energy analysis and cost/benefit studies on hundreds of projects for a few decades. Energy policy and strategy, design and use has been on my plate for more than 40 years.

While at DOE we had the Power Administration in our portfolio, as well as the solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, battery, auto and appliance regulations, and conservation programs, etc. Some programs were costing $300 to save a barrel of oil that cost $18 at the time. We mapped prevailing winds across the country in a study that cost a million dollar$. The places where semi-dependable winds were available happened to be river valleys where hydro power was available at 1/18th the cost.

Architects and engineers have known for years how to design passive solar and fairly efficient buildings, as power companies (some public, some private) have known for decades what is efficient and cost effective. Does government regulate the requirement to spend $300 to save $18? Do we force “alternative” energy at 18x the cost? Not in a free society. Not in responsible public policy.

There is no shortage of energy and there will not be. The question is from where, and when. Either you believe in the free market or you don’t. We hope you do not think as a legislator that you know better than Him, and those who decide when and how to invest in developing technologies and capabilities.

Please reject SB 437 and SB 438 and let the next term deal with freeing competition to open up all kinds of options for less expensive, dependable, safe, energy.

Thank you, and please have a blessed end of this year and session.

Norm Hughes, Chair
Michigan Conservative Union
52 E. Burdick # 658
Oxford, Mi. 48371

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