Michigan voters should think twice about supporting the renewable energy ballot proposal, a constitutional amendment that would lock energy policy into the state constitution and make it extremely difficult for the state to effectively manage its electric power supply in a way to protect the environment, encourage economic growth, and keep electricity affordable.
State energy policy needs the flexibility to respond to a variety of changing factors, including technologies, federal tax policies, fuel costs, land use requirements, and customer needs and desires on electric energy. Locking a requirement that 25 percent of each utility’s electric sales come from renewable sources would prevent that flexibility.
Michigan already has a 10 percent renewable energy standard that energy providers are working hard to meet by 2015. Michigan’s current energy law was approved in 2008 with overwhelming bipartisan support after careful evaluation of its potential impact on energy bills, the electricity needs of families and businesses, the role of renewable energy within the state’s generating fleet, and the price tag of power on the wholesale markets.
The November ballot proposal would cost Michigan businesses and families at least $12 billion—depending on which renewables are used. The state will be required to meet the standard regardless of the cost, need or availability of newer, cheaper alternatives. The last thing Michigan’s businesses and families need is a radical state energy policy that comes with an exorbitant price tag.
We strongly support Michigan’s current efforts to meet the requirement for
10 percent renewables by 2015. The current standard is a reasonable, responsible approach to clean, affordable, renewable energy for Michigan. The 2008 energy law requires a review to assess its impact on the economy, environment, customer rates, land use, and other impacts. Once this comprehensive review is completed, it will be determined whether the 10 percent renewable standard should be increased, by how much, and in what time frame.
It makes infinitely more sense for voters who endorse renewable energy—as we do—to support the current law and avoid being lured by this misguided attempt to more than double the state’s renewable standard.
Other states across the nation have a renewable energy requirement yet the level required differs by state, as well as the year it must be achieved. This makes sense, because states differ considerably in the availability of renewable resources like wind, solar and hydroelectric power. But none have locked it into their constitution because they all recognize the need for flexibility, and the need to respond to changing technology and circumstances.
Our constitution is a foundational document designed to establish basic rights and the framework of state government. When it came to energy and the supply of electricity to residents and businesses, it specifically recognized even when it was adopted in 1963 that new technologies would be developed, and so it directed the Legislature to regulate them “having in view the general welfare of the people of this state.” (Article IV, Sec. 50).
The constitution is simply no place for specific policy that will always need to be adjusted over time.
Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, was Senate Majority Leader from 2002-06.
Rick Baker is president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.
What YOU can do to help safeguard Michigan’s energy future:
- Get the facts at CAREforMich.com
- Sign up for email updates: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Follow on Facebook: Care for Michigan Coalition
- Follow on Twitter: Care for Michigan
- Tell a friend
- Write a letter to the editor
- Request a speaker for your group or club
- Vote “NO” Nov. 6!
We encourage all Michigan families and businesses to oppose ballot proposal 3 that would amend the Michigan Constitution and require utilities to produce 25 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025. We will all be footing the $12 billion bill for years to come if it passes.
Please join the Clean Affordable Renewable Energy (CARE) for Michigan Coalition and help fight this unprecedented threat to Michigan’s energy future. Get the facts at: CAREforMich.com