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State Proposal Asks Voters if a Renewable Energy Standard Should be Added to Constitution

Proposal 3, which will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, will ask voters to amend the Michigan Constitution to establish a standard for renewable energy.

Renewable, clean energy is the goal that most states strive for, but should it be included in a state's constitution?

That's the question voters will answer at the polls on Nov. 6.

Michigan is among 29 states with renewable-energy policies already in place, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Public Act 295, passed in October 2008, requires 10 percent of the state's energy to come from renewable sources by 2015.

If passed, Michigan would be the only state to put a standard in its constitution.

Opponents such as Consumers Energy and DTE say the move will cost too much money and that many smaller utilities may have trouble generating the 25 percent required to meet the new standard.

The proponents biggest argument is that the standard will create jobs in Michigan.

The following language for proposal 12-3 will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot:

This proposal would:  

  • Require electric utilities to provide at least 25 percent of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources, which are wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower, by 2025
  • 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
  • Allow annual extensions of the deadline to meet the 25 percent standard in order to prevent rate increases over the 1 percent limit
  • Require the legislature to enact additional laws to encourage the use of Michigan made equipment and employment of Michigan residents

If you vote:

Yes – If voters vote "Yes," the Michigan Constitution would be amended to require 25 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.

No – If voters vote "No," Michigan utility companies would not be required to provide 25 percent of electricity sales from renewable energy sources by 2025.

Brad Jensen October 19, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Umm nope. Still wrong. Environmental regulations ≠ Fascism. But thanks for playing...
Daily Drive October 19, 2012 at 07:55 PM
You know if you put a couple of paragraphs in there I right actually try to read it.
Barry Dingles October 19, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Yes, it is Fascistic. If the Govt arbitrarily applies regulations in order to make one form of technology cost more than the form of technology being provided by your favored corporations and campaign donors is very much Fascistic. Nice job though diverting attention from the fact that Hugh is purposefully using manipulated cost numbers to make his point and diverting from the fact the Govt is using regulations to purposefully manipulate markets to serve its political benefactors, all at the expense of average peoples expense. Also Daily Drive, Its not my fault if you cant make it through the limited number of characters allowed in the posts without hurting your head. Its really not that hard, the reading, not your head.
Marcia Robovitsky October 20, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Vote NO on ballot proposals 2-6 as the language would become part of the STATE CONSTITUTION and that is NOT good.
larry lee October 21, 2012 at 05:34 PM
all i had to see was utility companies are against this proposal. utility companies have gouged us for years. i will be voting yes for this proposal.
steve johnson October 22, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Scot beaton googled your name, now I understand where your coming from. ( LIKE THEY SAY FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL AND YOU WILL SEE THE LIGHT)
Scot Beaton October 23, 2012 at 04:41 AM
Though I disagree time to time with Jack Lessenberry, Metro Times http://metrotimes.com/columns/those-ballot-props-1.1382150 -- he brings up some good points worth sharing. "Proposal 3: The Renewable Energy Standard. VOTE YES. This is the "25 by 25" proposal to require electric utilities to provide at least a quarter of all their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable sources — wind, solar, biomass and hydropower. The utilities are screaming that this is impossible, that it will lead to energy shortages and/or massively spiraling costs, etc., etc. They sound, in other words, like the auto companies did when it was first proposed they should be required to make cars that got more than eight miles to the gallon. Now, it is true that unforeseen things can happen. It is also true that you can't legislate progress. But reputable environmentalists agree that this is achievable. Plus, the utilities don't want to admit this, but there is an escape clause. Not only would they be allowed to charge 1 percent a year in rate increases to achieve the standard, the law would allow them to put off the deadline if necessary to avoid higher rate increases. It isn't clear who would decide if that was necessary — possibly, the state. Setting a renewable energy standard is also something that ought to have been addressed as a simple law, rather than as part of our constitution. But environmentally speaking, it is worth a yes." by Jack Lessenberry
Lisa October 24, 2012 at 11:13 PM
They are and will. We have 300 windmills but not a great state for wind. Its a lie! Vote NO and keep the realistic progress going!
Lisa October 24, 2012 at 11:18 PM
It does not belong in the Consitiution none of it does!!! and the money will be going out of State buy local!!!! Vote NO
Mark Itall October 25, 2012 at 03:23 AM
From a certain perspective I really do not care if this is "doable" or not. It simply does not rise to being a constitutional amendment anymore than the other self-serving Props 2-6. If you believe in the theories, pass a LAW, not a constitutional amendment.
Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. October 25, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Readers should know the numbers supplied by the anonymous Mr. Doe are absolutely bogus. I think he/she may be stating the price of purchasing rights to peaking power or something. But definitely not electricity prices in our state. According to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s 2012 analysis of 2011 prices and projections, the costs per megawatt hour (MWh) for Michigan electricity are: -- New coal, $107 to $133 (the lower is the utilities’ estimate, the higher, the PSC’s) -- New renewable: $94 -- 2011 20-year wind contracts net yet figured in the analysis: $61-$64. It’s all here: http://1.usa.gov/xpHFHb The most recent contract, in Holland, ranges from $45 to $61. That’s a 10-year guaranteed price – certainty that coal with its fluctuations can not provide.
Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. October 25, 2012 at 04:35 AM
The reason we compare renwables to new coal, rather than existing coal prices are: --- Michigan has one of the nation’s oldest fleet of coal fired power plants and they produce about 60 percent of our electricity. One utility has already announced intended closures and the other will soon. If health and environmental regulations are more stringent, they’ll come off line faster. But even absent that, their sheer age and maintenance costs – and significantly the price of coal (2x price increase in 6 years, primarily due to diesel fuel costs to move it here) – will necessitate their closure. We need to replace that generation. We do that with new generation – whether it’s renewable or not – so we compare the price of new vs new. The CARE ads and their study misleadingly compares NEW renewables to fully depreciated OLD coal generation. Proposal 3 works on purely an economic level. The environmental and public health gains are harder to quantify, in cost, but they are significant. And the utilities are allowed to avoid those costs, passing them on to health care premiums and pollution cleanup. I guess that’s technically not a “subsidy,” but it sure feels like one.
Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. October 25, 2012 at 04:35 AM
As for the :”John Doe” lobbing factually inaccurate data and charges of fascism from behind the internet anonymity curtain, you’re invited to join the adult discussion at anytime. There are plenty of people on this thread who disagree but are able to do so with respect.
Lman23 October 25, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Clean Energy is here to stay. It is short sided to dismiss this technology that has been used and improved in Europe for decades. I have been seeing more wind and solar companies here in Michigan in the last 2 years. These are small businesses that provide jobs in Michigan. Let's keep this momentum going and let Michigan be in the forefront of clean energy technology.
michelle October 25, 2012 at 02:45 PM
DownUpside. I totally agree. I'm not opposed to new and cleaer energy sources but do not see the need to amend the consitution to include it (or most other amendments proposed). As for some of the other comments, politics this years seems more crazy than usual. Name calling? Really people? Grow up! We can each have our opinions. I will probably vote no on most things not because I don't think that energy sources need improvement, I do NOT feel that amending our constitution is the way to do it. I try to be as conservative as possible. I can't afford an electric car (well I could with other sacrifices) but I can easily afford a car with better gas milage. I try to make smarter decisions and less of a negative impact. One would hope that the utilitiy companies do research and development for cleaner energy. We are trashing this planet and they should have an obligation to do more. Amend the constitution to do so?...No, I'm not really on board with that.
michelle October 25, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Yeah...there are risks with everything. I think I would rather one crash on my road than having a nuclear power plant blowing. I don't live that far from Fermi...
Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. October 25, 2012 at 03:45 PM
These electric cost numbers are wholly inaccurate. You've taken the numbers for something entirely different and incorrectly portrayed them as cost numbers for electricity in Michigan. I've posted the correct figures based on the Michigan Public Service Commission's 2012 report, and linked to them in a separate post later in this thread.
Barry Dingles October 25, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Just looked at the report, the very first GLARING omission in the distorted cost numbers is the Renewable Energy cost structures being reported are based off reduced costs due to Govt subsidies and tax credits. Michigan Incentive Credits, and Federal Energy Credits. YOU are comparing Apples to Oranges. The costs Megawatt hour, (per your reports language making my language and basis of produced unit 100% accurate) a higher due to the unreported credits being handed over to producers using "green" sources. That cost is still being paid indirectly by tax payers. You also still fall back on the costs structures of "New" Coal plants which have not even been built yet. They are not being built because the EPA has larded up regulations so thick to PURPOSEFULLY create dis-incentives for the use of coal, directly in line with this administrations predeclared goal of BANKRUPTING the coal industry. On a level playing field, there is only one source of energy production that can beat coal and thats nuclear. Maintenance and Operating costs of coal are far lower than any green, even the old outdated fleet of coal plants you cite. I still contend, and you have no reasonable response for, DTE does not care where its energy is coming from. All they care about is its the least expensive option they can purchase from any producer. If green is cheaper, it will win in the competitive market making it unnecessary to enshrine its FORCEDE use in the Constitution.
Jim Weeks October 25, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Maureen Taylor, longtime chairperson of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, said poor and low-income families would be in jeopardy if Proposal 3 passes. “Locking at least $12 billion into our constitution and on the backs of Michigan’s most fragile families is ill-advised, especially during these difficult economic times …..,” said Taylor, whose organization represents more than 277,000 families across the state. You can see this is far from a utilities’ disinformation campaign as alleged. It is about real MI people. 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 does not provide output during hours of high electric demand. Another major issue of Prop 3 is that for over 30 MI based utilities (including Wyandotte) their investment in NEW hydroelectric, NEW wind, NEW geothermal, and NEW landfill gas is NOT recognized under Prop 3. These 30 utilities relied on Michigan’s current renewable law, and now their customers will be punished. Is that just or fair? Absolutely not, it will drive up energy rates in these communities, and cause job providers to leave. Together we can send a strong message to out-of-state interests in San Francisco and Wall Street hedge fund managers trying to push a high-cost scheme to line their pockets with $$ at the expense of MI taxpayers.
Ryan October 26, 2012 at 02:17 AM
While there are obviously arguments good & bad for the concepts involved, the simple fact remains: NONE of this has any business in the Constitution of Michigan. The purpose of a Constitution is to describe the structure & function of a States’ government & the rights of the people: the separation of Church & State, freedom of religion, speech, and the press & the right to equality, assembly and to bear arms. There’s a REASON we don’t see Articles such as “Candle manufacturers must develop candles to burn 25% less wax by 1849…” or “Horse breeders must cross breed their horses to run 25% faster by 1849…” in the Constitution to begin with! Yes, these are exaggerated examples, but the point is that they are not the basic god given/born with/self evident rights of the people or an appropriate structure/function of the government. These Proposals have to do with public policy, which should go to the Legislature. There’s a REASON we elect them to uphold, protect & put forth our interests. One of them is the amount of time, effort & research it takes to create sound & beneficial policy. A bullet point description of a Constitutional Amendment is just not enough to address the impact of any of these Proposals. Hence, again, the purpose of the legislative branch to begin with. Pros & Cons are presented, weighed, voiced & a vote takes place. You’re not going to give it justice in 30-second political ads or the highlights of the evening news.
Barry Dingles October 26, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Bring a staggering failure to be enshrined in the MI Constitution. Only 16% of Obamas "Green Jobs" training actually lead to employment lasting longer than 6 months. We too can bring this glowing example of fraud, waste and corruption to MI by signing it into our very highest law of the land, the Constitution. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/26/audit-green-jobs-stimulus-program-wastes-cash/
Barry Dingles October 26, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Thanks for singling me out as such. Given I provide citations, yet you claim they are false and the fact I am the one you single out for personal criticism rather than substantive refutation of the argument tells me, Im a success. My arguments are sound and you can only attack the messenger. Its an honor.
Brad Jensen November 02, 2012 at 01:05 PM
"Fascistic" That's a new one. Now instead of just inventing new meanings you are graduating to creating new words.
Brad Jensen November 02, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Yes, we can also use Google. Now show us how this applies to the current discussion.
Brad Jensen November 02, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Lithium is not toxic. Gasoline is. Carbon Monoxide is.
Dan November 05, 2012 at 05:47 PM
It is my belief that we should not change the state con by adding anything new. If these proposals are to be passed it should be by a trial system that should be voted on by the people every year instead of allowing politicans to vote them in, they are being paid by the special interest groups so they don't care. I don't care what party you are with, but we people united are the ones who are going to have to fix these problems we have in this state.
Laura Vogel November 05, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I completely agree that enshrining a fixed threshold/limit in the Constitution ends up being "no good deed goes unpunished". Witness what Prop A (a.k.a. Headlee Amendment) did to school funding. All of the school districts that were below the grabbed-out-of-the-air threshold when the amendment was passed are forever now barred from ever seeking to supplement the State "foundation grant" through local taxation. And, correspondingly, all of the school districts that were above this threshold continue to enjoy the flexibility of asking their taxpayers if they wish to supplement the State foundation grant by self-taxation. Thus, a child living east of Bogie Lake Road goes to Walled Lake schools who are able to fund 33% more towards per-pupil education than a child on the west side of Bogie Lake Road who attends Huron Valley Schools.
Kevon Martis November 05, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Now add the price of "new coal" to "new wind" and you get the true cost of wind because wind is tied to coal at a 1:3 ratio MI due to appallingly low capacity factors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgN1n4YOIZQ&feature=relmfu for my full presentation on renewables. Kevon Martis Director www.iiccusa.org
Kevon Martis November 05, 2012 at 06:16 PM
At best wind will reduce some fossil fuel consumption. It cannot replace fossil plants, new or old. Wind's costs are additive because, absent storage, wind is intermittent and redundant to fossil. And wind costs at least $120.00 per MWh to produce, using published installed costs+O&M divided by measured output over porjected lifespan of turbine. To sell below $120.00 is only possible if you get someone else to eat the loss, preferably when they are not looking. RECs, PTC, ITC, Section 1603 Grants, accelerated depreciation....translation? Higher cost to ratepayers...or taxpayers...but we pay,
Laura Jones November 05, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Isn't this what a legislature is for? I just don't understand all these proposed amendments to the Constitution. So if you cannot get a legislature to pass your bill you try to stick it into the Constitution - where it can become old, outdated and nearly impossible to change. I like renewable energy, but this is a bad idea, just like all the others.

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