McKnight Foundation Leaders Comment on Legislation and Progress Toward Equitable Clean Energy Future
(November 28, 2023) Earlier today, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a suite of clean energy legislation that moves the state closer to economy-wide decarbonization by committing Michigan utilities to provide their customers with 100 percent clean electricity by 2040, increasing energy efficiency with a focus on serving under-resourced households, establishing the Midwest’s first energy storage standard, and directing the Public Service Commission to consider equity, climate, and affordability in major planning proceedings. Michigan joins Minnesota y Illinois, which recently enacted 100 percent carbon-free laws. Together the three states will decarbonize nearly 10 percent of all U.S. power sector emissions—and nearly half of power sector emissions in the Midwest where McKnight works.
In response, Tonya Allen, president of the McKnight Foundation, and Sarah Christiansen, program director of the Foundation’s Programa de clima y energía del medio oeste, issued the following statement:
“Today’s signing of clean energy legislation by Governor Whitmer represents a major step for the clean energy transition in the state of Michigan, and the world. Michigan’s 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 law and related actions will deliver the benefits of renewable energy to millions of people in the nation’s 10th most populous state—benefits like lower utility bills, more reliable power, family-supporting jobs, economic development, and cleaner air and water. This action further solidifies the Midwest as the heartland of clean energy solutions, shifting the region from being a leading global emitter to a global climate leader and engine for innovation, demonstrating the opportunity to move all communities, states, and counties forward in pursuit of a healthy, abundant, and equitable future.
“We are pleased to see these actions paired with meaningful equity-focused policies like expanded utility programs tackling energy burden and the creation of a state-level office to support workers and communities through the clean energy transition, actions that will help improve health and economic outcomes for all Michiganders. This legislation marks a significant step forward, and there is a real opportunity ahead to ensure we achieve these goals equitably and center environmental justice communities in Michigan. Through robust implementation and maximizing truly clean, renewable energy, Michigan can advance a healthy and clean future for all.
“With this legislation, and as Michigan continues to lead the Midwest and the nation in federal climate investments, the state has an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that all Michiganders truly benefit from this transition. As we have seen from the inspiring electrification work happening in Ann Arbor’s frontline Bryant community, lasting systemic change requires deep community and stakeholder engagement. We hope that the justice-centered leadership demonstrated in Ann Arbor serves as a model for the rest of the state as it seeks to achieve ambitious and equitable climate action.
“We are grateful to our grantee and community partners who have worked tirelessly for years to make this moment a reality, as well as those who have worked and will continue to work to ensure the voices and needs of all communities are prioritized. We look forward to continued partnership with colleagues in Michigan and beyond to realize one of the most significant opportunities of our time—improving the lives of people, especially those most impacted by the climate crisis, and securing a better future by rapidly shifting away from polluting fossil fuels.”
About the McKnight Foundation: The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Established in 1953, the McKnight Foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest; building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota; and supporting the arts, global food systems, and neuroscience.