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.

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