LANSING – A group wants to amend Michigan’s constitution to more than double the existing requirement for how much of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2025.
Proposed ballot language filed Wednesday for the Nov. 6 election would require the state’s utilities to reach 25%, well beyond the current law passed in 2008, which requires 10% of Michigan’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2015.
Less than 4% of Michigan’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2009, a state report said. Most is made by burning coal from other states.
The coalition Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs includes public health, labor and farming groups and wants to raise more than $1 million to collect about 500,000 signatures, said spokesman Mark Fisk of Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications in Lansing.
Approving the measure “will create thousands of new jobs for Michigan workers” and “spark over $10 billion in new investment,” while protecting the state’s air, water and land, Fisk said.
The initiative calls for incentives to promote the hiring of Michigan workers. It also proposes to protect consumers by capping utility rate increases related to meeting the target at 1% per year.
Jeff Holyfield, a spokesman for Consumers Energy, said it’s premature to set a new target before Michigan reaches the current goal of 10% renewable energy by 2015.
The rate cap “doesn’t sound very realistic” because utilities would be “caught between competing requirements,” he said.
About 5% of the electricity Consumers Energy sells comes from renewable sources, and that’s expected to increase to 8% when the company’s first wind farm comes online later this year, he said.
At DTE Energy, spokesman John Austerberry said the current law is “a balanced approach for meeting Michigan’s energy needs and contributing to economic growth and environmental quality.” He’s concerned that a constitutional amendment allows too little flexibility.
Minnesota has set a goal of 25% renewables by 2025. Several states have set higher goals.
“This initiative will ultimately save lives by giving Michigan cleaner and healthier air and water, reducing asthma and lung disease, and protecting our Great Lakes,” said Joyce Stein, a board member of the Michigan Nurses Association, which has endorsed the measure.
Jeff Metts, president of wind turbine manufacturer Dowding Industries, which has a plant in Eaton Rapids, said the measure is about advancing technology and creating jobs.
“This is a chance to diversify,” he said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding