By Rick Albin of Wood TV 8

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Now not expected to be finished before the end of the year, Michigan’s new energy policy is still the subject of hot debate.

In previous episodes of “To The Point,’ lawmakers debating the legislation have weighed in. In this Dec. 6, 2015 episode, we hear from two advocates for particular issues.

Jack Schmitt is with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. His group wants the bill to include mandates for the use of renewable energy sources.

“When we’re talking about this energy policy, it’s really about setting some different performance standards … for our utilities, and we do that when it comes to expectations around rates and how much we’re going to pay,” Schmitt said. “We do that when it comes to guiding the type of infrastructure utilities are going to build, and for that reason we think it makes a lot of sense to put in statute expectations and standards around their development of renewable energy growth and capacity.”

Former state Sen. Ken Sikkema, who now studies energy issues for a consulting company, is interested in making sure that the regulation is equal. Currently, he says, the 10 percent of customers who buy outside the two big providers are not necessarily paying the full cost of their service. He favors a fully regulated system.

“It’s sort of embedded in our Republican DNA, competition and free markets, and 99 percent of the time it works. It doesn’t work when it comes to electric utilities for a couple of reasons. One is the massive amount of investment required over a long term to build and maintain these plants and to pay them off. They get paid off over 30 and 40 years, and in order to do that you need a secure customer base to secure the financing and ultimately pay off the plants,” Sikkema said.

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