Editorial

EDITORIAL: ‘No’ on Proposal 3

It is not in the best interest of Michigan voters to vote yes on Proposal 3, which would require 25 percent of Michigan’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2025.

Currently, state law requires that 10 percent of statewide energy come from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by 2015. That mandate is on its way to being achieved and lays the foundation for future growth in green energy and the jobs that come with them statewide.

While it is vital to the long-term health of the environment for all levels of government to get serious about promoting alternative energy, Proposal 3 asks the state to mandate too much over too long of a timespan.

If the proposal passes, the “25 by 2025″ mandate would be set in stone in the state’s constitution. While aiming for that standard is admirable, putting it in the constitution would make it too difficult for adjustments to be made in the plan should something go wrong. How many times has the government promised us something and not delivered?

Many other states have similar standards for renewable energy, but not one of them passed those standards through a constitutional amendment. Why? Because they realize that, especially when it comes to lofty goals set by the government, things can go awry. If they do, the law can be easily adjusted to meet those new challenges.

That’s not possible if those standards are enshrined in the constitution. If passed, we would be locked into 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. An unforeseen challenge could require utilities to pass new costs onto their customers, putting a strain on the economy all because that standard would still be in place.

While encouraging citizens to use more renewable energy is admirable, it is not the government’s role to dictate how the free market works. By boxing Michigan residents into a long-term commitment  through deadlines and time limits, government, or in this case the state, begins to promote and favor industries that do not promote free-market principles.

Setting guidelines and suggestions are nice, but timelines and requirements for a market still relatively small and unknown is not healthy for the state’s economy. We encourage a ‘no’ vote on Proposal 3 on Nov. 6.

8 Comments

  1. michmediaperson says:

    Now you’re sounding like michmediaperson. CM LIFE made the right decision by not listening to the radical environmentalist left.
    Well-written editorial. Good to see the young people at CM LIFE aren’t brainwashed the environmentalist wackos.
    Everyone, as CM LIFE is recommending, should vote No.
    Thank you CM LIFE for standing up against the left.

  2. I find this article to be lacking in facts, or not understanding the ones it points out. Michigan already has a mandates to increase its renewable energy to 10% by 2015, which Michigan is well on its way to reaching, so why not expand such a mandate that is already being done?
    Also, proposal 3 makes the jump in energy costs this editorial emphasis on is rather low, since the proposal states “Limit to not more than 1% per year electric utility rate increases charged to consumers only to achieve compliance with the renewable energy standard” so the cost to consumers is very limited.

  3. I’m glad to see CM-Life get this one right. The biggest argument against this proposed amendment to the constitution is that we don’t yet know what the economic impact of the full implementation of the 10 percent mandate will be by the current laws imposed deadline of 2015. The projections put forth by the Mackinac Center on Foreign policy put the cost to our economy at approximately $800 million. Also, the cap imposed by prop. 3 to not raise energy rates by more than 1% per year, but the actual costs of producing energy under these guidelines will increase much more. When power companies cannot pass the cost directly on to consumers, they face a choice to either lose money, or accept a government subsidy. The subsidy, of course, comes from the taxpayers, or the consumers. Either way, the cost of this proposal will be more than we can afford. Thank you once again, CM-Life, for voicing a much-needed viewpoint.

    • Just a note to clear my own conscience… I incorrectly typed my source. I meant to say “Mackinac Center for Public Policy.”

  4. Nice job on a well thought out editorial – very factual and straight to the point. Unfortunately, PROP 3 is not well thought out, and would cement billions in charges onto MI ratepayers struggling to pay their bills today.
    “There is no doubt that this will affect everyone’s pocketbook, resulting in higher electric bills for Michigan families and businesses, particularly small businesses,” said Rev. Horace Sheffield, III, President from the Detroit Association of Black Organizations. “Families and businesses in Detroit can’t afford higher rates and if this proposal passes, those bills are only going to go higher.”
    The opposition to Proposal 3 is from a diverse group of MI based job providers and residential customers, businesses, labor and elected officials including former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley, dozens of local Chambers of Commerce including the Grand Rapids Area Chamber, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce; major organizations serving Michigan’s rural residents, including the Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association and the Michigan Milk Producers; labor organizations, including the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Michigan State Utility Workers Council; and leading business organizations, including the Small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan Manufacturers Association, Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Great Lakes Bay Economic Alliance.
    Contrast this with Proposal 3 supporters primarily being bankrolled by the San Francisco-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit called Green Tech Action Fund and the New York-based 501(c)(4) NRDC Action Fund that do not disclose its donors.
    The real weakness in this proposal is that it isn’t completely about improving air quality in Michigan, but it portends to do so. As an example, switching from coal to natural gas or using nuclear for electric generation is not recognized as cleaner energy under this proposal. However, from an emissions standpoint both are much cleaner than using biomass, which does receive credit. 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 provides its output during hours of low electric demand. So if we use wind, we also need another fossil fuel plant to follow the customer’s real time usage. You also have to make large investment in very costly transmission to crisscross the state to bring the wind from its source back to the load. Solar, which is on-peak, doesn’t need backup generation like wind, can be located close to load, is more reliable, but receives the same credit as wind under this proposal (but receives extra recognition under MI’s current legislatively passed Clean Energy Act). On-peak production will lead to a cleaner and more reliable MI electric infrastructure. It is the on peak generation like solar that is what is needed if the intent is to keep from building new coal plants. Support MI jobs and residential customers, like former MI Attorney General Frank J. Kelley and Rev. Horace Sheffield III, and join them in opposing this poorly thought out Constitutional proposal. Together we can send a strong message to out-of-state interests like Green Tech Action Fund trying to push a high-cost scheme to line their pockets at the expense of MI taxpayers.

  5. Most of the opposition to this proposal is from MI based job providers and residential customers like Farm Bureau, Michigan Manufacturers, MI Chamber of Commerce, and Small Business Association of Michigan. Contrast this with supporters like the San Francisco based “Green Tech Action Fund” that does not disclose its donors. In my opinion, the real weakness in this proposal is that it isn’t completely about improving air quality in Michigan, but it portends to do so. As an example, switching from coal to natural gas or using nuclear for electric generation is not recognized as cleaner energy under this proposal. However, from an emissions standpoint both are much cleaner than using woody biomass, which does receive credit. 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 provides its output during hours of low electric demand. So if we use wind, we also need another fossil fuel plant to follow the customer’s real time usage. You also have to make large investment in very costly transmission to crisscross the state to bring the wind from its source back to the load. Solar, which is on-peak, doesn’t need backup generation like wind, can be located close to load, is more reliable, but receives the same credit for as wind under this proposal (it receives extra recognition under our current legislatively passed plan – appropriately so). On-peak renewable production will lead to a cleaner and more reliable MI electric infrastructure. Support MI jobs and residential customers, like former MI Attorney General Frank J. Kelley does, and join him in opposing this Constitutional proposal. Together we can send a strong message to out-of-state interests and Wall Street hedge fund managers trying to push a high-cost scheme to line their pockets at the expense of MI taxpayers.

  6. Most of the opposition to this proposal is from MI based job providers and residential customers like Farm Bureau, Michigan Manufacturers, MI Chamber of Commerce, MI Townships, MI Counties, locally elected officals, organazations looking out for those on a fix income like AARP, and the Small Business Association of Michigan. Contrast this with supporters like the San Francisco based “Green Tech Action Fund” that does not disclose its donors. In my opinion, the real weakness in this proposal is that it isn’t completely about improving air quality in Michigan, but it portends to do so. As an example, switching from coal to natural gas or using nuclear for electric generation is not recognized as cleaner energy under this proposal. However, from an emissions standpoint both are much cleaner than using woody biomass, which does receive credit. 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 provides its output during hours of low electric demand. So if we use wind, we also need another fossil fuel plant to follow the customer’s real time usage. You also have to make large investment in very costly transmission to crisscross the state to bring the wind from its source back to the load. Solar, which is on-peak, doesn’t need backup generation like wind, can be located close to load, is more reliable, but receives the same credit for as wind under this proposal (it receives extra recognition under our current legislatively passed plan – appropriately so). On-peak renewable production will lead to a cleaner and more reliable MI electric infrastructure. It is the on peak generation like solar that is what is needed to meet peak demands. Support MI jobs and residential customers, like former MI Attorney General Frank J. Kelley does, and join him in opposing this Constitutional proposal. Together we can send a strong message to out-of-state interests and Wall Street hedge fund managers trying to push a high-cost scheme to line their pockets at the expense of MI taxpayers.

  7. Proposal 3 would put a $12 billion burden on Michigan’s electric customers and the state’s vulnerable senior citizens would be hit hard by the costly mandate, according to the president of AARP Michigan.

    U.S. Census figures show that more than half of Michigan’s senior citizens ‒ 8.3 percent, or about 822,000, of the state’s 9.9 million people ‒ have an income below the federal poverty line. For one person, that’s an income of $11,170 per year and for a couple it is $15,130 a year.

    All told, 12.1 percent, or 1.2 million, of Michigan’s residents have an income below the federal poverty line, the latest U.S. Census figures show.

    In a recent interview on “The Tony Conley Show” (WILS-AM), AARP Michigan President Bob Kolt said senior citizens on fixed incomes have to be careful with every penny and won’t support Proposal 3 if they’re aware the constitutional mandate would raise their utility bills.

    “Even if limited to one percent a year or even $1 dollar a year, seniors living on a fixed income –
    many are at the brink of poverty – and if they know their utility bill is going up, they will vote against that proposal,” Kolt said on the Conley show.

    Maureen Taylor, longtime chairperson of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, echoed Kolt’s comments and 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 when folks are trying to stand on two feet,” said Taylor, whose organization represents more than 277,000 families across the state.

    The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), Michigan’s leading voice for many of the state’s low-income families, seniors and the working poor, also opposes the costly constitutional energy mandate.

    “Heat and electricity are essential and basic human needs, and our families need reliable and affordable electricity. Proposal 3 wouldn’t provide that reliability,” said Susan Sherer, chief executive officer of THAW.

    THAW is an independent non-profit (501(c)(3) agency that provides low-income individuals and families in Michigan with emergency energy assistance. Since its inception in 1985, THAW has distributed more than $110 million in assistance to more than 163,000 households. The number of households that need utility assistance each year continues to grow. Last year, THAW distributed
    $8.6 million in energy assistance to 7,800 Michigan households.

    “THAW has strong concerns that this initiative funded by out-of-state special interest groups would hurt the pocketbooks of Michigan families. If passed, the cost goes to customers and utility rates will go up,” Sherer said.

    Proposal 3 would lock a 25 percent renewable energy mandate into the state constitution, no matter how much it costs Michigan families and businesses. Experts project the cost of meeting the standard would be $12 billion. Proposal 3 also would make Michigan the only state in the nation to put a renewable energy standard in its constitution.

    Rep. Thomas Stallworth, minority chair of the House Energy and Technology Committee, questioned the huge cost of Proposal 3.

    “This special-interest assault on the constitution would stick customers with a $12 billion burden and force them to pay higher electric bills for years to come,” Stallworth said. “That $12 billion works out to about $2,500 for each electric customer in the state. That’s without interest, taxes and any new high-voltage transmission lines. New transmission lines to new renewable sources could add another
    $1 billion to $2 billion to the customer price tag for this costly mandate.”

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