Final arguments on Proposal 3

Proposal 3 would create an amendment to the Michigan Constitution a requirement that 25 percent of the state’s electrical power come from renewable sources by 2025, with certain caveats.

The primary proponent group for Prop 3 is Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs. As of Oct. 26, it had raised nearly $13 million, most of it from out of state environmental groups.

The primary opponent is CARE – Clean Affordable Renewable Energy for Michigan Coalition. As of Oct. 26, it had raised nearly $23 million, almost all of it from the two major utilities – Consumers and DTE.

For full Bridge coverage of Proposal 3 — and the other statewide ballot proposals this year — visit our Ballot Mania page. Advocates were asked to make their case on how to vote on Proposal 3:

No: Prop 3
will wreck
family budgets

By Pat Dillon and Chuck Hadden

Successful business starts with smart decision-making, teamwork and a plan for a prosperous future. Proposal 3 offers none of that: It’s a $12 billion budget buster that punches holes in the Michigan Constitution for the benefit of wealthy California carpetbaggers.

With years of business and labor experience under our belts, we would like to warn Michigan voters about this danger to the state constitution and urge them to vote “no” on Nov. 6. And here are three solid reasons to reject this special interest mandate:

* Proposal 3 would make Michigan the only state in the country to lock a renewable energy mandate into its constitution. The Michigan Constitution was created to protect people’s rights and define the role of government, not to set detailed energy policy.

* It would require that 25 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable resources by 2025, no matter how much it costs customers. Michigan families and businesses would be saddled with a $12 billion burden and higher electric bills for years to come.

* If Proposal 3 passes, it could lead to the pre-emption of local zoning that protects homes, environmentally sensitive areas and scenic vistas. The future of our energy industry would be handed over to out-of-state interests with no concern for Michigan or protecting its beauty.  The result would be a landscape cluttered with 3,100 wind turbines in places where they’re not wanted. The potential loss of local control from Proposal 3 is a red flag that should not be ignored.

Modern-day energy policy needs the mobility and flexibility to respond to economic variables ranging from advances in technology and federal tax policy revisions to fuel costs and land use requirements. Locking in a rigid mandate that calls for renewable sources to generate 25 percent of each utility’s electricity would restrict that flexibility.

Proposal 3 also fails to encourage energy efficiency measures such as retrofitting older homes and buildings to use less electricity.  Those energy efficiency steps save money for homeowners while also creating jobs and helping to improve the environment. A recent report by Public Sector Consultants found that energy efficiency is more than five times cheaper than renewable energy options.

Proposal 3’s out-of-state backers -- chiefly California billionaires with a liberal environmental agenda -- describe their plan as creating a multi-billion dollar “investment” in renewable energy.

What they don’t say is that Michigan families and businesses would be forced to pay for that “investment.” It’s a classic example of spending other people’s money. Not to mention, Michigan workers do not need another round of empty jobs promises, when our state is just beginning to get on the right economic track. As State Rep. Ken Horn, who chairs the House Committee on Energy & Technology, wisely pointed out, “This ballot proposal is a death warrant to Michigan manufacturers.” We couldn’t agree more.

When you go to the polls on Nov. 6, remember that Proposal 3 would lock a $12 billion mandate into our state constitution and likely lead to the loss of local control. Then vote “no” on Proposal 3 to help protect Michigan’s future. 

Yes: Prop 3
means jobs,
lower bills

By Mark Fisk/Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs

On Election Day, Michigan voters have an opportunity to put people back to work in the fast-growing clean energy industry, by voting “yes” on Proposal 3.

More than 30 other states have already adopted measures similar to Proposal 3, including Midwestern states like Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. These states are creating jobs and saving money. In fact, the Illinois Power Agency reported its renewable energy standard reduced electricity prices by $176 million and has sparked “significant job creation.”

Proposal 3 will increase Michigan’s renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025, helping us rein in skyrocketing energy costs by reducing our dependence on imported coal and foreign oil.

Just as technological advances have reduced the price of things like flat-screen TVs and computers, they have also brought down the price of renewable energy. A report by the Michigan Public Service Commission found that renewable energy is now $58 per megawatt/hour cheaper than new coal power.

Proposal 3 is about growing Michigan’s economy and putting Michiganders back to work. A wind turbine has 8,000 parts, and all those parts can be built right here in Michigan. Proposal 3 specifically encourages the hiring of Michigan workers and the use of Michigan-made equipment, helping Michigan flex its manufacturing muscle and simultaneously create jobs.

According to economists at Michigan State University, adopting a 25 by 2025 renewable energy standard will create at least 74,000 jobs in operations, maintenance and construction, plus an additional 19,675 manufacturing jobs if Michigan captures 50 percent of the market – a conservative estimate given Michigan’s manufacturing prowess.

That’s 94,000 Michigan jobs that can’t be outsourced.

Proposal 3 also will help us rein in the high cost of energy. More than 30 other states are already moving in this direction without significantly increasing energy prices.

Nearly 60 percent of Michigan’s electricity comes from coal, and all of it imported from other states. In 2011, Michigan ratepayers sent $1.7 billion– and the jobs that go with it – to other states to finance our dependence on coal. The cost of importing coal has gone up 71 percent since 2006, and will only keep increasing. Because transportation accounts for 75 percent of coal import costs, more renewable energy will help us cut back on our consumption of foreign oil.

It’s time to stop exporting our money and jobs to other states and start investing in building Michigan’s clean energy future.

Proposal 3 protects Michigan consumers by explicitly stating utilities cannot raise electricity prices related to the cost of generating renewable energy by any more than 1 percent per year. According to an independent report, Proposal 3 will cost no more than 50 cents a month for the average Michigan household and rates will go down in the long term.

Any modest cost to implement Proposal 3 is overshadowed by the double-digit rate increases Michigan families and businesses are shouldering year after year from the big utility companies that want to continue locking Michigan into outdated and expensive sources of energy like oil and dirty coal.

While rebuilding Michigan’s manufacturing industry and keeping energy costs in check, Proposal 3 also will reduce dangerous coal pollution that harms public health and the health of our Great Lakes, rivers, air and land. Coal emissions contain toxic pollutants that cause serious ailments, from lung cancer and heart diseases to childhood asthma and neurological impairments in infants.

Proposal 3 is important for our economy, which is why a broad bipartisan coalition of supporters that includes hundreds of businesses, health professionals, faith leaders, Democrats and Republicans, labor and conservation groups support it. Michigan’s future depends on a “yes” vote for Proposal 3.

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Nancy Shiffler
Thu, 11/01/2012 - 3:31pm
Let's work through some of those claims made by opponents of Proposal 3: 1) The Michigan constitution has many things in it, including statements about energy policy. Other examples -- the Michigan Natural Features Trust Fund, which provides funding for parks and recreation areas in Michigan, is funded by royalty payments from gas and oil extraction on state land; it was put into the constitution so that the legislature would not try to divert those funds to other uses. 2) Costs-- electricity costs in Michigan increased by 11% last year. DTE projects the cost of coal will increase about 7% per year for at least the next four years. Prop 3 puts a cap on renewable costs; there is no cap on the cost of coal or nuclear power. 3) Nothing in Proposal 3 would preempt existing local zoning. 4) Flexibility -- new coal plants and nuclear plants lock us into those energy decisions for 50 years or more. 5) Energy efficiency should be encouraged. Nothing in Prop 3 discourages it. DTE and Consumers Energy (and the legislature) should be doing more. 6) Funding for the opposition to Prop 3 includes some $11 million each from DTE and Consumers, contributions from Enbridge (the company responsible of the pipeline oil spill into the Kalamazoo River) and various Kentucky coal companies. Proponents of Prop 3 include unions, environmental organizations, nurses associations, religious groups, and many businesses. 7) "Investments" in new coal and nuclear plants (such as the new Fermi 3 plant proposed by DTE) are passed on to rate payers, and they are a lot more expensive than renewables.