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Michigan NewsMichigan Governor Whitmer unveils state’s path to carbon neutrality with breakthrough SEFI...

Michigan Governor Whitmer unveils state’s path to carbon neutrality with breakthrough SEFI program

Lansing, Michigan – At the MI Healthy Climate Conference in Lansing on Friday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer shared some big news: the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) are now officially recognized as State Energy Financing Institutions (SEFI) by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO). This announcement kicks off the joint EGLE-MEDC SEFI Program and opens up applications for eligible projects.

This SEFI status means Michigan can start rolling out large clean energy projects and push for economic growth, both for new and existing businesses. It’s all part of the effort to hit Michigan’s goal of 100% carbon neutrality by 2050.

The new program will make it easier to get funding for big clean energy projects that wouldn’t normally qualify for DOE LPO financing. It will help cut costs for new clean energy and industrial decarbonization projects, save money for Michigan’s consumers and ratepayers, and boost clean energy job creation in the state.

Read also: Michigan Strategic Fund board has approved additional $250,000 grant to boost projects in downtown Flint

“Michigan is committed to lead the future of clean energy and climate action so we can lower utility costs for families, create good-paying jobs, and grow our advanced manufacturing economy,” said Governor Whitmer.

“Thanks to the Biden-Harris administration and our hardworking congressional delegation, we have more tools and resources available to communities and businesses to help them pursue clean energy investments that will help us meet the ambitious targets of the MI Healthy Climate Plan and also build a more sustainable and resilient future for all Michiganders. Let’s keep leading and defining the future.”

As SEFIs, EGLE and MEDC can accelerate the deployment of large-scale, commercially viable projects and technologies that will spur economic development, create high-quality jobs across the state, and help Michigan achieve the goals of the MI Healthy Climate Plan.

“EGLE is committed to leveraging every available resource, including federal funding, to accelerate action to address the climate crisis, protect our natural resources and public health, and offer new opportunities for Michigan communities,” said EGLE Director Phil Roos.

“Today’s announcement allows us to unlock dollars for Michigan communities, businesses, and partners, enabling them to get the resources they need to help us implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan. Through enhanced coordination among federal and state departments, we’re not just laying the groundwork for progress; we’re building a bridge to a brighter, greener tomorrow, where opportunities for prosperity and environmental stewardship intersect harmoniously.”

“We are grateful for the Department of Energy’s vote of confidence in Michigan’s marriage of climate policy and profitable business activity. Michigan is well-positioned to create economic development opportunities that generate good-paying jobs, spur entrepreneurial growth, and cement our state’s leadership in climate action,” said MEDC CEO Quentin L. Messer, Jr.

“With the Department of Energy’s resources and our Team Michigan support, these grants will allow Team Michigan to build on the work of the MI Healthy Climate Plan, further execute the ‘Make it in Michigan’ economic development strategy focused on People, Places, and Projects by investing in projects that will drive clean energy solutions and encourage future innovators to transform the world from Michigan.”

About the Loan Programs Office Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program

Under the Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program, the DOE LPO can fund projects that push clean energy forward and revamp energy infrastructure to cut down on greenhouse gases and air pollution. Title 17 was born from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and has been updated over the years, most recently by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in 2022. These updates broadened Title 17’s reach to cover some state-supported projects and those reinvesting in old energy infrastructure, using extra loan power and funds for projects with new energy tech.

There are four project categories within the Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program:

  • Innovative Energy: Financing for projects that deploy new or significantly improved technology that is technically proven but not yet widely commercialized in the United States.
  • Innovative Supply Chain: Financing for projects that employ a new or significantly improved technology in the manufacturing process for a qualifying clean energy technology or for projects that manufacture a new or significantly improved technology.
  • State Energy Financing Institution (SEFI)-Supported: Financing for projects that support the deployment of qualifying clean energy technology and receive meaningful financial support or credit enhancements from an entity within a state agency or financing authority.
  • Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment (EIR): Financing for projects that retool, repower, repurpose, or replace energy infrastructure that has ceased operations or upgrade operating energy infrastructure to avoid, reduce, utilize, or sequester air pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions.

Michigan Leads on Clean Energy Investments and Jobs

The MI Healthy Climate Plan and new clean energy laws are making Michigan a leader in clean energy, aiming for 100% clean energy by 2040. This move will create thousands of jobs and lower costs for families and businesses. In 2022, clean energy jobs grew nearly twice as fast as the overall economy. This trend is expected to continue, thanks to federal clean energy and vehicle programs spurring new projects, boosting domestic manufacturing, and reducing upfront costs for homeowners adopting clean energy. The World Resource Institute predicts that by 2040, Michigan could create 41,000 new jobs through electric vehicle manufacturing and renewable energy projects like solar and wind.

“Under the leadership of Governor Whitmer and President Joe Biden, Michigan is experiencing a remarkable surge in infrastructure and clean energy investments,” said Zachary Kolodin, Michigan’s chief infrastructure officer and director of the Michigan Infrastructure Office. “Together, we’re mobilizing to bring home federal funding dollars that directly funnel into our communities, revitalizing our infrastructure and propelling our state toward a sustainable future. Today’s announcement stands as a prime example of this proactive approach, empowering communities to successfully apply for and secure funding essential for their growth and resilience.”

Michigan is at the forefront of utilizing federal funds for climate and clean energy initiatives. A recent Climate Power report ranked Michigan as the top state for leveraging clean energy projects and a leader in new investments and job creation from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The state will start accepting applications on a rolling basis beginning Friday, May 17, 2024. For application details, visit the EGLE-MEDC SEFI Program page.