REMAIN CALM

March 31st, 2017

Written by: Tony Anderson

The White House

Well, it’s been a couple of months under a new administration with a president who had no previous political experience. Will the Clean Power Plan go away? Is the temperature of the climate going to go out of control? How will the environment survive the next four years or maybe longer?

These are all serious questions. As I watch the membership in environmental organizations climb and donations to fight “battles” pour into these groups, my simple answer is, “Remain calm.” Whether you support this administration or not, this too shall pass. Every party comes into power and every party goes out of power. This will never change, nor should it.

A lower carbon economy will continue to grow. The United States will remain a climate leader. Our leadership may be more market-driven rather than executive-order-driven, but I am confident this country will remain at the cutting edge of environmental improvements.

No president can stop the aging of our coal fleet. Many coal-fired plants have simply reached the end of their useful lives. It has nothing to do with the present administration or the last administration. It is simple economics.

Market forces were already pushing the United States beyond the Clean Power Plan targets before Inauguration Day. This won’t change. Wind prices will nudge lower. Solar will continue its downward trend. Utilities will purchase more energy from both as their affordability targets are met. No late-night Twitter storm can stop the market.

A recent Energy Department analysis determined that the use of natural gas has surpassed coal as a main source of electricity generation in 2016. Thus, affordability of electricity has tilted heavily towards the price of natural gas. We have the boom in fracking to thank. If you are worried about increasing electricity prices in the future, you need to hope that proposed fracking bans in various states are defeated or forgotten.

Yes, there is no doubt this administration will be different than the last. We will see more exploration on land and in the sea. This had to happen regardless of the political party in power. The world will continue to grow and continue to be hungry for energy. It will not all come from the wind and the sun.

Making big changes is not popular for any president. If we are patient while we defend respective positions and beliefs, we will see that there are no big, dramatic changes coming down.

There will be a better climate for business. Coal will not be as dirty of a word, just as solar will become more economical. All renewables will have to stand strong on their foundations as the attack on coal diminishes.

It is a political cycle with a twist like we’ve never seen, but it remains a cycle in a lifetime of cycles. Relax, take a breath, remain calm. When the tweets settle on the ballroom floor, the renewable options and the “not-all-eggs- in-one-basket” theories will still remain.

Tony Anderson

Categories: Energy PolicyManager's ColumnMichigan Country LinesRenewable EnergySolar

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27 thoughts on “REMAIN CALM”

  1. Mary Coleman says:

    Excellent writing, and I couldn’t agree more. Keep up the good work!!!!

  2. Richard says:

    Very slanted view and playing the political card doesn’t suit your company. At the end of the day, everything will work out. I really wonder what your real agenda was in putting out this letter. Poor taste on your part.

  3. David Spaulding says:

    I can’t believe I read this article to start my day. Everyone has a right to their opinion but what makes this guy think we want to hear his. I’m surprised he didn’t bring up North Korea.

  4. Louis Burruezo says:

    I agree completely, I appreciate your common sense , and trust you leadership.

  5. Dennise Don Hunting says:

    Thank-you!

  6. D. Povich says:

    Tony, I generally agree with all your blog postings, including this one, but have to question this paragraph:
    “Market forces were already pushing the United States beyond the Clean Power Plan targets before Inauguration Day. This won’t change. Wind prices will nudge lower. Solar will continue its downward trend. Utilities will purchase more energy from both as their affordability targets are met. No late-night Twitter storm can stop the market.”
    Are you contending that the beautiful State of Michigan would be defaced with hundreds (thousands?) of giant wind turbines if left to free market choice? Or is this result more reflective of tax credits or similar free market perversions?

    1. Tony Anderson says:

      I think it is a little of both. In Michigan, we are not building coal, nuclear or hydro. This leaves solar, wind and natural gas. I believe tax credits will drive more wind generation. I also believe tax credits make wind affordable albeit even though we are all paying for the subsidy. You can get as excited about solar as you want but it will never be a big player in Michigan. For me, it is really simple. Michigan continues to grow, at least in our region. This generation has to come from somewhere. It will be gas or wind and I think it will be both. Doesn’t mean I like it. Doesn’t mean I want to see thousands of windmills. It simply means I think that is where we are headed.

  7. Willard Susan says:

    Well said. There is a balance! How things are done in other states is not necessarily the best for Michigan.
    Thank you for your article.

  8. R Collins says:

    So did you send out this type of email when Obama was elected? You know, the guy who virtually had no political experience other than voting present as a senator for a year before he ran for office?
    The environmental fanaticism by the Obama administration was way more scary than anything President Trump might do as it cost thousands of jobs and thousands of tax payer dollars. After all, who can’t forget that wonderful failure of a company called Solyndra which was pushed by the Obama administration.
    Your political activism only confirms that I made the right choice on November 8th and it’s another reason why your political party lost. We are tired of your fanaticism and scare tactics when it comes to the environment. And to send out an email like this just reeks of political bias. I just wish I could use another electric company.

    1. Tony Anderson says:

      Yes, I have a long, long track record of defending affordable electricity from all resources – pick any administration from the last 14 years regardless of party. What is posted above is simply my opinion on an industry I have worked in for more than 3 decades now. I didn’t expect everyone to agree with it but I did expect to generate some conversation. Now, let’s all get along and see how things play out.

  9. Robert Spears says:

    Thanks for such a level headed and factual (not the sky is falling) analysis on our current energy “climate”. When I suggest to my liberal friends that they go on line and seek “documented fracking disasters” they never bring it up again. One was convinced that the state of Oklahoma was a total disaster area because of numerous earthquakes caused by fracking. Talk about false “news”. Thanks again.

  10. I agree with much of what you said. However, your stance on the damage 45 will try to do is rather naive. This administration ‘s words and deeds have proved that they will be actively working against green renewable energy, while exploiting the environment. Once a stream, river, or lake and land have been polluted by coal ash or an oil spill, the damage is permanent. At this stage, there is no way to completely restored the water or land. The simple fact is that making is a profit important than the air, water, and land. They put their greed over people, animals and the future. Fracking contaminated millions of gallons of water a day. It is not a clean energy. Solar and wind are completely safe and renewable. Once they are installed, the energy is free, which is why the GOP opposes them; they loose their ability to make a profit. Wind turbines in the shape of a trees can produce enough energy to power a home in minimal wind; the designs can be found online for free and are very inexpensive to make. They also pass most zoning regulations.

    Fossil fuels are going by the way of the horse and buggy. Those, who support them, will be left behind just like the blacksmiths and carriage manufacturers.

    1. Tony Anderson says:

      If we are going to have affordable electricity, we will need fracking – like it or not. Our coal fleet is aging out and being retired. Even with President Trump’s changes, there will not be a resurgence of coal generation. The wind and sun do not work 24 hours a day. Natural gas does. My industry is charged with keeping the lights on and we will get it done. It will be accomplished with an “all of the above” strategy. A ban on fracking will only increase the cost. I have not heard of windmills shaped like trees. I can only believe that we would see them everywhere if they were affordable and easy to build. I am confident that fossil fuels will be a part of our energy mix for years to come. Horses fell by the wayside when they were replaced by gas operated automobiles that could consistently go faster and farther. Wind and solar can’t go faster and farther than coal, natural gas, nuclear or hydro power.

  11. George Granlund says:

    Maybe Tony can relax now that coal emissions requirements are relaxed, and the business climate will enjoy gains even as the global climate changes. Relax Tony, your boy’s in charge and we can look forward to “really super- fantastic” change for America.

  12. Heather says:

    Mr. Anderson, Thank you for presenting a calm and reassuring voice. For those of us who see the need for a financially sound look at our energy economics, you give us hope. We have all heard or read the dramatization of both sides to the climate change arguments. By providing strong evidence and data that shows the financial and health benefits of renewable energy, we gain a future that can be a mix of both fossil fuels and renewables. For most of us the option to cut ties with all fossil fuels is not economically viable but neither is ignoring that we need to start changing over to healthier alternatives. If fossil fuels were a healthy and financial benefit we would all be clamoring for an oil well or coal bit on our properties. Instead we hear the rebel cry of “not in my backyard”, even from those who most benefit from these types of energy. We still miss my husband’s grandfather; he died from black lung disease as a direct connection of working in a coal mine. I have always enjoyed reading your blog.

  13. Amy Long says:

    This is one of the best politically based articles I have read in months. Thank you, for easing the anxiety of some of the customers your business serves.

  14. Mike Disbrow says:

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. “Staying calm” is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. People should be raising the roof about any setbacks in environmental protections. Fracking is doing horrible things to our earth that will certainly be seen in the years ahead as it continues to pump unknown chemicals into our precious groundwater.
    Unfortunately we are like sheep being lead to slaughter. People are too disinterested, comfortable under the drug of wealth and materialism, to make a fuss. I’m disheartened by the news day by day and people like you who tell us it’s all going to be okay don’t help things a bit.

  15. Bonnie Wattelet says:

    I am not interested in your political beliefs or your trashing of OUR President. Stick to your job of running a efficient electric co-op or leave and run for office. Maybe Michael Moore has a room for you.

  16. Dick Jones says:

    Thank you for your calming & insiteful words of wisdom.

  17. Fred says:

    I support this administration’s policies. Don’t need your slanted political views.

  18. Lynda G Wonn says:

    A fair and thoughtful assessment. While many of us continue to be alarmed at what we’re seeing and hearing from Washington (and Florida) nor can we endorse unlimited fracking, we recognize the necessity of a plurality of opinions in a democracy and the fact that reasonable people can disagree. Moreover, it is reassuring to hear your support for clean/renewable energy & the context in which they compete. Thank you for an insightful article.

  19. Edward Cox says:

    Not one shred of actual proof exists linking human activity to climate. None. So called “environmental scientists” are basing their opinions on unproven computer models. Existing data indicates earth naturally cycles through climate change. I am disgusted Anderson would use his position to promote this hoax.

    1. Tony Anderson says:

      Disgusted is a strong word. I encourage you to read the article again. I am not promoting any theories. I am only expounding on the realities of our situation today as I see it. Utilities are being put in a corner by public opinion and we are left with very few options for generation. I have been lobbying for an “all of the above” energy policy for the past 14 years. I don’t choose to debate a “hoax'” or a “theory”. I choose to write about the reality of keeping the lights on as affordably as possible. The only side I am trying to pick is the one that is about solutions. Thanks for taking the time to read the article and provide your comments.

  20. Ian Millar says:

    Your article – sanctimonious, needless and pandering – my opinion. You are in the power business. Stick to it. Give me some energy facts and figures rather than your political platitudes and nostrums. I don’t care for your banal attempt at conversation. Give me facts and figures, logic and well thought through positions on the energy business instead of a self-indulgent puff piece. For example, who is going to provide and pay for the “spinning reserve” and/or combined cycle plants and/or batteries needed for when the Michigan sun goes behind a cloud and/or the Michigan wind falters?

    1. Tony Anderson says:

      Thanks for your opinion. This isn’t the only column I have ever written. If you are a long time reader, you have read multiple columns about an “all of the above” solution to generation. Your question as to who is going to pay for the spinning reserves has an obvious answer. We all are. Keeping the cost of electricity is our focus at Cherryland. This article was intended to be a simple recognition that there is a lot of worry, anger and stress over our present political climate. I believe it was very balanced and if you read all the comments on this blog, you might agree. One reader contends President Trump is my “boy” while another claims Michael Moore has a job for me. I also believe it is my responsibility to engage in this energy conversation in order to generate debate and discussion that might encourage more people to formulate opinions of their own.

  21. Douglas Gottwald says:

    All that I read expressed in this Comment is that you (CEC) are willing to play both sides. Stop It. All Power opportunities should be involved that keeps prices economical. All opportunities should be involved regardless of how the Wind is Blowing in Washington.

    1. Tony Anderson says:

      As I have written to others, I support an “all of the above” energy strategy. This article is simply a benchmark for where I believe the industry is at today. I may be right or wrong but only time will tell. In the meantime, everybody at Cherryland will be working hard to keep the lights on and energy costs affordable. Thanks for participating in the discussion.