State Rep. Jenn Hill unveils “Michigan Saves” program


Sam Rush/NW

Joad Blaauw-Hara, Contributing Writer

A new state program offering green loans to residents and businesses was explained by State Rep. Jen Hill at NMU on Friday. The program is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order to reduce greenhouse emissions in Michigan by 26% by 2025.

The program, titled “Michigan Saves,” offers loans to build energy and resource-efficient property projects. Through offering these loans, Hill hopes that carbon neutrality will be more attainable for the average person.

“We’re past the early adopter, super expensive phase, but we’re in that middle stuff,” Hill said.

The program expects to maintain affordable loans for those interested and forecasts significant long-term utility savings for those who invest in energy-efficient projects. It also expects to increase access to communities that have historically struggled to access sustainable energy.

Part of the program’s mission is to ensure that no resident in Michigan pays over 6% of their income towards utilities. Making sustainable loans available to disadvantaged communities is essential to this goal.

Hill says that offering affordable loans like this is part of Michigan’s plan to produce 50% of its energy sustainably by 2050, adding that Michigan already produces almost 20% of its energy in this manner.

Hill also said an upcoming bill she is proposing will require batteries on Michigan’s power grid, adding that a move like this can help ensure that power outages like the one that affected the Lansing area two weeks ago are less likely to happen. This outage affected almost one million customers across Michigan, leaving some without power for over five days. Hill said that outages like that prove that fossil fuel energy is not always reliable.

“When we say that fossil fuels are going to generate fuel every time, tell that to the 980,000 people who just lost power,” Hill said.

Hill covered a variety of different subjects in her talk, from funding from the governor to rebuild the Escanaba paper plant, to an effort to increase the availability of net metering, a process where an energy company buys solar energy from a private producer. Efforts like this are part of the State’s goal to decrease emissions across the board.

Hill’s talk was a part of the Northern Climate Network’s “Climate@Noon” lecture series, which focuses on bringing climate speakers to Northern. Ryan Stock, NMU professor and coordinator for the Northern Climate Network, said that bringing speakers like Hill to Northern can help inspire those who may be interested in going into environmental politics.

“Having local politicians speak to local climate and environmental issues in the context of policymaking and politics can be really eye-opening for a lot of local people and students who want to work long-term in environmental policy,” Stock said.

Hill said that those who would like to see increased sustainability efforts in their communities should be sure to contact the governor’s office, their local commissioners, and even her.

“That really, really matters to us,” Hill said.

Those looking for more information regarding the “Michigan Saves” green loan plan, along with other sustainability efforts within the state, should visit the nation’s first nonprofit green bank website.