The Facts Behind Michigan’s Proposal 3

BY ON September 12, 2012

Field of solar panels and wind turbines

In November, Michigan residents will have the chance to vote on Proposal 3, a ballot initiative to strengthen our state’s Renewable Energy Standard to 25% by the year 2025. That means by the year 2025, 25% percent of our energy will come from renewable sources, such as wind, solar, hydropower and biofuels. MCAF supports a stronger renewable energy standard because MI’s coal-fired power plants create air pollution. This air pollution contains mercury, a potent neurotoxin that harms the developing brains, hearts and lungs of fetuses, babies and toddlers. Less coal-fired power plant emissions will also lower the risk of lung disease, heart attacks and asthma, especially in children whose respiratory systems are much more vulnerable than adults. If we can reduce the amount of mercury in our Great Lakes, the health and well-being of children will be more protected.

This is a press release from Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs:

The utility-backed opposition to Proposal 3 has launched a television ad that is full of lies and distortions, and Michigan voters deserve to know the truth, Proposal 3 proponents said today.

“Opponents of Proposal 3 are distorting the facts about renewable energy to scare voters away from a proposal that will create 94,000 jobs and reduce energy costs,” said Mark Fisk, spokesman for Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs, the coalition leading the Proposal 3 campaign. “The fact is that renewable energy is reining in high energy costs in other states, and the same is true for Michigan. DTE Energy raised rates on residential customers 13.5 percent last year — the status quo clearly isn’t working.”

Mark Pischea, spokesman for Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs, said: “More than 250 businesses, conservatives, health organizations and faith groups support Proposal 3 because it will create 94,000 jobs for Michigan workers and spark investment for our state. Our bipartisan coalition is giving voters the facts – not the lies.”

The following is a breakdown of the utility companies’ false TV ad attacking Proposal 3, along with the facts:

False claim: “In a few short weeks, you’ll be asked to vote on an energy mandate that would be locked into our state Constitution.”

Fact: More than 30 states have already adopted measures similar to Michigan’s ballot initiative, according to the July 6, 2012, edition of Crain’s Detroit Business — without significant increases in utility costs for consumers. 

False claim: “And because it would be locked into the state Constitution in a way that cannot be changed quickly or easily…”

Fact: Building a single coal plant locks ratepayers into a commitment for 40-60 years. Once construction starts there is no ability to change course. The ballot measure directs the state to set small, interim steps to build toward 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.  Each renewable energy project is smaller than a new coal plant and can incorporate the latest technology or cost-saving measures.

False claim: “…This energy mandate would affect your own family’s utility bills and taxes for years to come.”

Fact: Proposal 3 includes an explicit provision saying utilities cannot raise electricity prices related to the cost of generating renewable energy by any more than 1 percent on any given year. For the average Michigan household, that’s no more than $1.25 a month.

False claim: “So, it’s important to know the facts. Michigan would be forced to generate 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by the year 2025, even though it’s expensive and less reliable…”

Fact: Michigan consumers spend $1.7 billion a year importing coal from other states, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, the latest wind contracts approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission have been at or below $65 per megawatt/hour – lower than the cost of new coal generation.

Moreover, a Public Sector Consultants report paid for by the utility companies and released earlier this week stated: “The cost of renewable energy to meet the renewable portfolio standard is declining, particularly with several wind energy projects that are expected to go into service this year.”

A recent report from CERES showed that renewables are also less risky. Furthermore, coal-fired power plants can’t guarantee a price for more than three years. Delivered coal prices to Michigan are up 71 percent since 2006, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Wind farms can guarantee a price that will not change for at least 20 years, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

False claim: “…Because the wind often doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.”

Fact: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that Michigan has capacity for 54,000 megawatts of high-quality wind generation sites, but compliance with the 25 by 2025 standard will require only about 4,600 megawatts.

False claim: “In fact, this experiment would have an estimated price tag of $12 billion. That works out to thousands of dollars in higher electric bills for Michigan families and small businesses.”

Fact: The cost of renewable energy has decreased by 30 percent in two years, according to the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory. Illinois is on a path to 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 and the Illinois Power Agency reports that it has reduced prices by $176 million.


TOPICS: Activism, Economics, Michigan, Politics, Pollution, Renewable Energy

  • barry


  • John Williams

    The actual data supports none of your “facts”.

  • Getitright

    I believe your “false claims” and “facts” dichotomy is a complete misapplication of that comparison technique. The allegedly false claims often ring true. What you meant to do was present a “point / counter-point” format. Because you try to disprove things that are provably factual, you look utterly silly. Having a counter-argument does not equate to your opposition being a liar. It just means you have arguments that might be more compelling. Logic fail.

  • JimMcKee

    The US is sitting on so much oil and coal as to make this whole proposal laughable at best, and it’s far cheaper than this green stuff. I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny either.

    • Starla McDermott

      Laughable at best? Is it laughable when I baby is born with mercury poisoning, mercury that can come from our coal-fired power plants? Is it laughable that Michigan is the 7th most toxic state in the US? Michigan is not sitting on unlimited coal resources. Michigan imports ALL of their coal from other states, spending billions of dollars. Billions of dollars that could shift and be spent here in Michigan and employ Michigan residents.

      • JimMcKee

        Never said it was the ONLY solution, just that it needs to be part of the mix, as is natural gas, which we DO have tons of. And mercury can come from CFL light bulbs, which the govt. forced on us against our will, so sorry, your mercury argument holds no water. The energy solution we really need and can afford is: ALL OF THE ABOVE. Drill, baby, drill.

      • Skeptical

        Please tell me who this baby this is… Cause I have never heard of it.

  • John

    I am a HUGE fan of alternative energy and would love to see more of it. But I will vote NO on Prop 3 because because of its foolish legal approach. This proposal should be merely a law, not a constitutional amendment. Please stop cramming commerce-based laws into the state constitution. Please vote NO on all proposals that attempt to enshrine ordinary legal items in the constitution.

  • Brybry

    To make this a constitutional change is a huge mistake. Thus has no business being in michigans constitution. And why are billionaires from california funding this? The utility companies are pouring 100′s of millions of $’s into renewables. These utilities have been powering the state for over a 100 years and they know what they are doing. Power is the life blood of all civilization. So a well diversified and thoughtout approach is needed. Not rich investors from other states. NO WAY ON PROP 3!!! Serious mistake!!!

    • Starla McDermott

      I think that Prop 3 is a well thoughtout plan, with much research to boot. You ask why there is funding from CA to sponsor this bill. I ask why DTE and Consumers are spending $5 million plus to fight Prop 3? Because they do not want to do it. Making an amendment to our Michigan Constitution is not as drastic as you suggest. Our currentMichigan Constitution was put into law in January of 1964, and within these past 47 years has already been amended multiple times. That is how the process works, when a change needs to be made. Civil Rights Amendments, Equal Pay Amendments, now a Renewable Energry Standard Amendment that will protect Michigan’s health. It is already in our current constitution that we are to utilize newer sources of energy as they become available. We now know that renewable sources of energy, such as wind, solar or bio-mass, are available, are viable AND DO NOT POLLUTE the air our children breathe. I will vote Yes on Prop 3. I will vote Yes to a Constitutional amendement to insure that Michigan grows our renewable energy sector. I will vote Yes to Prop 3 because I know it is one step to cleaner air, to a Pure Michigan.

  • Ben

    We need to reflect a little more on energy policy in Michigan and not get hung up on our individual pocket books. For starters, the utility companies in this state can fund any attack ad, finance any candidate or manipulate any PR event to suit their interests. They don’t want this proposal to pass and they are working (paying) overtime to make that happen; to influence you. Just take a look at Senator Ken Sikkema’s major campaign contributors, the leading spokesman working to defeat Prop 3:
    Secondly, the idea that this legislation would significantly raise consumer costs is a canard. Energy costs are already going up, due largely to peak resources and transportation costs. Coal is not renewable! The supply will gradually wain as companies insanely dig deeper and deeper. Costs WILL go up. Its simple economics.
    Lastly, the natural environment of Michigan is its greatest treasure, not our manufacturing sector (sorry, but in a globalized market, its much cheaper for a corporation to send jobs over seas than hire a Michigan worker). We are surrounded by life-sustaining fresh water that needs urgent protection and care. A modest proposal set forth by the people of Michigan to shift policy in the direction of clean renewables (that WILL create competitive, high paying jobs), a true investment in future generations, is a wonderful idea. Don’t be manipulated by those that have monied interest in the status quo. VOTE YES ON PROP 3!

    • MARK

      My issue isn’t anything to do with whether or not rates are raised, or decreased or who its funded by or what not. the problem with this is , as you can see by what I was saying about the purpose of the consitution, this clearly does not belong there. THAT is why it is a terrible idea. I mean, I might as well put out a proposal to put a Dam in the Detroit river and make it part of the constituion. Does that make sense? or does it make more sense for the legislature to debate , go over pros and cons by those who understand that there are opposing sides to make sure before the dam is built, there is real reason to. not just just madate it in a document that dictates how official are elected.

  • stopsign

    I think it is reasonable to give utilities 13 years to get us to only 25% renewable; sounds low to me – should be higher like fuel standards. You think that DTE and Consumers are run efficiently? Try to call them. Go down to the office and try to solve a problem. They are the most inept and unefficent buracratic smucks there are. Clean coal is a joke. 50% of the energy in the country is made by coal – imagine the power they have and interest in keeping that going. I am voting for 3 and it is just a small step in hoping that we can recover from this global warming mess that our kids and grandkids will inherit.

  • John

    Michigan is wind power is poor to marginal unless you build in the lakes:

    Wind farms consistently under-produce compared to prediction:

    So Prop 3 is asking us to vote for unduer-production of a marginal plan.

    We should focus on re-powering hydroelewctric dams. They are viable but are tied up in gov red tape that favors the big energy companies

  • Mark

    You are forgetting one basic thing. Proposals like this DO NOT BELONG in the Constitution period. The constitution is for the purpose of establshing procedures for elected officials, and amendments are for CIVIL issues and rights. This is a busienss issue, not civil. this is plain wrong sorry. This is what the legistlature is for. We don’t need thing in the consitution that have no place there no matter if it is a good idea or not

  • Mark

    also, does everyon know WHO got this propoasl on the ballot? noone in Michigan believe it or not, but groups in California. So do you want peopl ein CA telling us what to do? and it gets better all the groups in CA are actually funded by a huge hedge fund maanger who’s name I can’t recall but he is behind all of these gruops and it would make him tons of money, and guess what you and I get? nothing.