Archived Story

Ballot proposal No. 3: renewable energy directive

Published 8:08pm Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Proposal 3 amends the state constitution to establish a renewable energy standard requiring utilities to provide at least 25 percent of their annual retail sales of electricity from wind, solar, biomass and hydropower by 2025.

This proposal would limit to not more than 1 percent per year electric utility rate increases charged to consumers only to achieve compliance with the renewable energy standard.

The proposal allows annual extensions of the deadline to meet the 25 percent standard to prevent rate increases over the 1 percent cap.

It requires the legislature to enact additional laws to encourage the use of Michigan-made equipment and employment of state residents.

Proponents say:

• The amendment will require electricity providers to make major investments in Michigan, benefiting the economy and creating green jobs to promote clean energy.

• The proposal protects consumers in the short term by capping rate increases caused by renewable energy regulations at 1 percent per year.

• Using clean, renewable energy will help reduce pollution, protect Michigan’s air, water and land and help make Michigan more energy independent.

People voting no say:

• Michigan consumers already pay the highest electricity rates in the Midwest.

Despite the 1 percent annual limit on rate hikes, consumers will see long-term rate inflation until renewable energy investments are retired.

• Michigan’s current energy mandate of 10 percent of electricity to be derived from renewable energy sources by 2015 still has not been achieved.

• It is unwise to lock this proposal in the constitution as it will make it difficult in the future to adapt to changing conditions and technology.

The Tea Party filled Ontwa Township Hall in Edwardsburg Oct. 2 for its forum on ballot proposals featuring state Sen. John Proos; Susan Martin, chief of staff for state Rep. Matt Lori; Berrien County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs as GOP candidate for Sharon Tyler’s 78th District House seat; and Ronnie Coleman, a regional manager for Consumers Energy in Jackson, which is part of the CARE (Clean, Affordable, Renewable Energy) coalition working to defeat Proposal 3 along with Michigan Farm Bureau, Attorney General Bill Schuette, Frank Kelley, former attorney general, and Conrad Mallett Jr., former Michigan Supreme Court chief justice.

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  • Jim Weeks

    “There is no doubt that this will affect everyone’s pocketbook, resulting in higher electric bills for Michigan families and businesses, particularly small businesses,” said Rev. Horace Sheffield, III, President from the Detroit Association of Black Organizations. “Families and businesses in Detroit can’t afford higher rates and if this proposal passes, those bills are only going to go higher.”

    The opposition to Proposal 3 is from a diverse group of MI based job providers and residential customers, businesses, labor and elected officials including former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley, dozens of local Chambers of Commerce including the Grand Rapids Area Chamber, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce; major organizations serving Michigan’s rural residents, including the Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association and the Michigan Milk Producers; labor organizations, including the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Michigan State Utility Workers Council; and leading business organizations, including the Small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan Manufacturers Association, Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Great Lakes Bay Economic Alliance.

    Contrast this with Proposal 3 supporters primarily being bankrolled by the San Francisco-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit called Green Tech Action Fund and the New York-based 501(c)(4) NRDC Action Fund that do not disclose its donors.

    The real weakness in this proposal is that it isn’t completely about improving air quality in Michigan, but it portends to do so. As an example, switching from coal to natural gas or using nuclear for electric generation is not recognized as cleaner energy under this proposal. However, from an emissions standpoint both are much cleaner than using biomass, which does receive credit. Also, for intermittent energy like wind, you have to make a double investment (another plant to follow load). This is because wind generation is not reliable (intermittent) and a large majority of the time provides its output during hours of low electric demand. So if we use wind, we also need another fossil fuel plant to follow the customer’s real time usage. You also have to make large investment in very costly transmission to crisscross the state to bring the wind from its source back to the load. Solar, which is on-peak, doesn’t need backup generation like wind, can be located close to load, is more reliable, but receives the same credit as wind under this proposal (but receives extra recognition under MI’s current legislatively passed Clean Energy Act). On-peak production will lead to a cleaner and more reliable MI electric infrastructure. It is the on peak generation like solar that is what is needed if the intent is to keep from building new coal plants. Support MI jobs and residential customers, like former MI Attorney General Frank J. Kelley and Rev. Horace Sheffield III, and join them in opposing this poorly thought out Constitutional proposal. Together we can send a strong message to out-of-state interests like Green Tech Action Fund trying to push a high-cost scheme to line their pockets at the expense of MI taxpayers.

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