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New energy office created by governor

March 23, 2015

Gov. Rick Snyder Wednesday created the Michigan Agency for Energy within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), an agency created to guide the Governor’s office on energy policy as lawmakers look to brush up the state’s 2008 energy reform law.

The new department — which will operate independent of the Michigan Public Service Commission — also is being charged to oversee how Michigan government responds to energy challenges and help residents reduce “energy waste.”

Snyder pledged the creation of the new office a week ago Friday when he gave his special message on energy policy.

Valerie Brader, now a deputy legal counsel and senior policy adviser specializing on energy issues, will head the agency, created through the signing of Executive Order 2015-10. Brader also will serve as chief adviser to the Governor and the directors of state departments on the development of energy policy and programs.

“Michigan families and businesses need a future without fear of unaffordable energy price spikes or widespread outages that disrupt lives and work,” Snyder said.

The executive order also calls for several transfers of responsibilities to and from LARA, the Michigan Public Service Commission, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) and the Michigan State Police (MSP).

For instance, the order transfers to the new agency the Retired Engineers Technical Assistance Program and the Air Policy Director from the DEQ and the Michigan Energy Office from the MEDC and the MSF. It also transfers LARA’s Energy Advisory Committee authorities to the executive director of the new agency.

Brader, 38, has worked with the administration since 2011. She previously served as chief energy policy officer at the MEDC and as an adviser to former Idaho Gov. Phil Bati on environmental and natural resource issues. She also worked in a private law practice, specializing in environmental and corporate law.

Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth) said he worked with Brader when she was the law clerk to the late federal Judge John Feikens when he oversaw the Detroit Water and Sewage Department.

“I think she’s a great choice for this position,” he said. “She’s highly intelligent, very well educated and very thorough in everything she does. She’s a whiz at environmental law and energy policy and she has a good understanding on what’s been going on in Michigan for a number of years.”

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