Last year’s infrastructure bill and the Lower Inflation Act ushered in a new era of investment in clean energy production. More than $20 billion in investment in Michigan is aimed at expanding electric vehicle supply and assembly chains, establishing battery manufacturing and building solar panel manufacturing capacity. Investments announced so far are expected to create more than 13,700 new jobs, adding to the 119,000 clean energy jobs already created in our local economy. This is a great example of how Michigan can grow and build a healthier future for our people and environment.
The electric vehicle market is developing rapidly. There is an annual sales volume has tripled since President Biden took office and new incentives should speed up American production to meet the obvious demand for these cars. Someone, somewhere is going to build these cars and trucks, but the Republicans’ insistence on an unwarranted default puts our chance at being an EV nation and place in real jeopardy.
Companies have identified Michigan as the right place to build facilities to meet the demand for electrified transportation. New plants were announced across the state. And manufacturers are expanding production of parts for things like the steel housings that hold and protect car batteries and charging stations for solar-powered cars.
Those facilities will mean new jobs, and the cars and trucks they produce will help reduce transportation emissions — but all those benefits could disappear if investors stop believing the federal government is keeping its word.
Also at risk are new efforts to reduce the cost and emissions associated with building new cars. Last year, Ford teamed up with DTE Energy to announce that by 2025, its southeast Michigan manufacturing facility will be powered by 100 percent solar electricity. To achieve this milestone, DTE Energy plans to install 650 megawatts of new solar.
Producing clean solar energy requires infrastructure — and Michigan can do that, too. Hemlock Semiconductor’s Saginaw County project to expand manufacturing capacity for polysilicon used to make solar cells and microchips.
We are very familiar with the effects of climate change in Michigan. In some areas, people still have mold in their basements from the massive flood of 2021. Ice on the Great Lakes forms later and melts earlier. Algal blooms that occur with warmer lake waters are threatening the drinking water of some Michiganders and making some recreation areas unsafe for swimming. Unless we take action, these kinds of consequences will increasingly affect Michiganders in the years to come. Every month that passes without action, we add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Time is of the essence for the jobs we want to see here in Michigan. In this decade, the world needs to create a huge number of electric cars. A debt limit now that stops or suspends these projects will have a domino effect. Miss that moment and we may well spend the next century buying solar panels made somewhere else to power cars we didn’t build.
Clean energy projects—electric vehicle and battery factories, electricity for solar-powered cars, and the silicon that goes into cars and solar panels—can come together in a reliable, sustainable supply chain. We can prevent some of the effects of climate change. We can create good-paying union jobs and opportunities for Michiganders.
This opportunity comes once in a generation. We can’t let the Republicans get this wrong in Congress.