With half of the state forested, Michigan has abundant woody biomass resources.

Michigan, known as the Great Lakes State, has within its boundaries portions of four of the five Great Lakes. The state has more shoreline than any other state except Alaska, and vessels that transit the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Seaway arrive and depart from Michigan’s many ports. The northern ends of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron divide Michigan into two distinct sections-the Upper Peninsula, which is lightly populated and heavily forested, and the Lower Peninsula, where most of the state’s population lives and all of the major cities, manufacturing industries, and commercial agriculture are located. Michigan’s largest and longest rivers are in the Lower Peninsula, but of the state’s more than 150 waterfalls, all but one are located in the Upper Peninsula. With almost 40,000 square miles of the Great Lakes within its borders and thousands of smaller inland lakes and ponds, almost half of Michigan is water.

Michigan’s energy resources include natural gas and crude oil, as well as renewable resources. With half of the state’s land area covered in forest, and abundant municipal solid waste and landfill gas provided by the state’s large population, Michigan has substantial biomass resources. Dams on the state’s many rivers provide hydroelectric power despite the generally level terrain and relatively small size of many of the rivers. Winds, occasionally of gale force, sweep in across the lakes and provide the state with a substantial offshore wind resource.

Michigan has a temperate climate with four seasons. Generally, the Great Lakes moderate temperatures, but more extreme temperature highs and lows occur in the interior of the Lower Peninsula, away from the lakes. Snowfall, on the other hand, is highest along the lakes because of the lake-effect snows created by cold air blowing over the warmer lake waters. The lakes also provide Michigan with more cloudy days than in most states. Michigan is among the top 10 states in the nation in both population and total energy consumption, but despite its cold winters and manufacturing base, Michigan is in the bottom two-fifths of all states in energy use per capita. The residential sector is the leading end-use energy-consuming sector in the state, followed closely by the industrial and transportation sectors. Michigan’s most valuable manufactured products are transportation equipment, including automobiles, trucks, buses, airplanes, and boats. Energy-intensive industrial activities in the state include not only automotive manufacturing, but also machinery manufacturing, fabricated metal products, chemicals, oil and gas extraction, and petroleum refining.

Renewable Energy

Quick Facts

  • In 2014, Michigan had more underground natural gas storage capacity – almost 1.1 trillion cubic feet – than any other state in the nation.
  • The Antrim Gas Field, located in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, is one of the nation’s top 100 natural gas fields. More than 95 billion cubic feet of natural gas was produced from Michigan’s Antrim Shale in 2014.
  • In 2015, Michigan’s three nuclear power plants, with four reactor units, provided 25.7% of the state’s net electricity generation.
  • Michigan used coal for 46.4% of its net electricity generation in 2015.  Much of Michigan’s coal is brought by rail from Wyoming and Montana.
  • Much of Michigan’s biomass energy comes from landfill gas, municipal solid waste, and the state’s almost 19 million acres of forest land. Biomass provided fuel for 35% of Michigan’s nonhydroelectric renewable net electricity generation in 2015.

Michigan is 12th in the nation in electricity generation from wind.

Michigan’s renewable electricity generation comes predominantly from wind, which surpassed biomass as the state’s primary renewable energy resource for electricity generation in 2013. Estimates of Michigan’s potential generating capacity from wind have increased with improved technologies, and the state’s potential was ranked 15th in the nation in 2014. In 2015, Michigan was 14th among the states in installed wind capacity and 12th in the nation in the amount of electricity generated from wind. Michigan has more than 20 utility-scale wind farms with a combined total capacity in excess of 1,500 megawatts. Substantial renewable electricity generation also comes from wood and other waste, as well as more than 100 hydroelectric power plants, several facilities that generate electricity using methane recovered from landfills, and, since 2006, anaerobic digesters that convert animal waste into biogas and electricity on Michigan dairy farms. Overall, renewable resources contribute almost 8% to the state’s net electricity generation.

Michigan has six ethanol and four biodiesel production plants in operation. Corn is used as a feedstock for all but one of Michigan’s ethanol plants, and those plants have the ability to produce 270 million gallons of ethanol each year. The sixth ethanol production facility in the state is a small cellulosic ethanol plant that uses wood sugars as feedstock. Michigan’s biodiesel refineries can use a variety of oils, fats, and greases as feedstocks to produce more than 10 million gallons of biodiesel per year.

Michigan’s Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act, enacted in 2008, required that the state’s retail electricity providers, including investor-owned electric utilities, alternative retail suppliers, electric cooperatives, and municipal electric utilities, obtain at least 10% of the electricity they sell from renewable energy resources by 2015. The standard allowed electric utilities to use energy efficiency and advanced cleaner energy technologies to fulfill part of the requirement. The Michigan Public Service Commission believes that all of the state’s retail electricity providers have met or exceeded their 2015 goal.

Michigan offers tax incentives in Renewable Energy Renaissance Zones (RERZs). Those zones were created to promote the development of a renewable energy manufacturing industry in the state. RERZs must contain a renewable energy facility that creates energy, fuels, or chemicals from renewable resources or that does research, development, or manufacturing of those technologies. Facilities involved in the conversion of chemical energy for advanced battery technologies are also included.


Nearly half of the electricity generated in Michigan is produced from coal.

Because of Michigan’s unique geography, the state is serviced by two major interstate electricity grids. One grid covers the Lower Peninsula and a small portion of the Upper Peninsula, and the other grid covers much of the Upper Peninsula. Nearly half of the electricity generated in Michigan is produced by coal-fired power plants, the majority of which are in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. Michigan’s three nuclear power plants are also in the southern part of the state and typically supply slightly more than one-fourth of the state’s net generation. Natural gas fuels much of the rest, with renewables, particularly wind, contributing a small but increasing share of the electricity delivered to the Michigan grid.

Michigan’s net electricity generation is greater than almost four-fifths of the states, but residential electricity sales per person in Michigan are below the national average, in part because less than one-tenth of Michigan households rely on electricity as their primary source of energy for home heating.

Natural Gas

Michigan has the most underground natural gas storage capacity in the nation.

Michigan has more than 10,000 producing natural gas wells. The Antrim Field in the northern portion of the Lower Peninsula is one of the nation’s top 100 natural gas fields ranked by proved reserves. However, natural gas production in Michigan peaked in 1997 and is declining. The state’s natural gas marketed production equals less than 15% of the state’s needs. Michigan does not have any natural gas market hubs, but many natural gas pipelines cross the state, bringing natural gas to Michigan consumers on the way to other markets in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Natural gas enters the state from Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Michigan also receives natural gas imports from Canada at St. Clair, Marysville, and Detroit. The bulk of the natural gas flowing out of Michigan flows into Canada at St. Clair, Detroit, Marysville, and Sault Ste. Marie.

Driven largely by the residential sector, Michigan’s natural gas consumption is high. The state routinely ranks among the top 5 in residential use of natural gas and in the top 10 in total consumption. More than three-fourths of Michigan households use natural gas as their primary source for home heating. With more than one-tenth of U.S. capacity, Michigan has the most underground natural gas storage capacity in the nation, and the second-largest number of natural gas storage fields after Pennsylvania. During the high-demand winter months, natural gas is withdrawn from storage to supply Michigan and neighboring states.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (Apr 2016)

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