Consumers Energy reaffirms opposition to renewable-energy ballot initiative at shareholders meeting Friday
JACKSON, MI – Consumers Energy is the No. 1 supplier of renewable energy in the state of Michigan, President and CEO John Russell announced Friday morning at CMS Energy’s shareholders meeting.
However, the company is still opposed to a ballot initiative that would require the Jackson-based utility to have 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, saying it will be costly to customers and the environment.
The Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs coalition – which includes public health, labor and farming groups – sent an open letter asking shareholders to demand that Consumers Energy to embrace the ballot initiative. The campaign is collecting petition signatures to place a 25-percent renewable standard on the November ballot.
Current law requires that utilities have 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015.
Campaign officials say the proposal will spark $10 billion in investments and lead to more than 44,000 jobs in Michigan.
The issue came up during the meeting when a shareholder asked why Consumers is opposed to the ballot proposal.
Consumers officials said the state’s 2008 energy-reform law is working as it should and that it is premature to talk about raising renewable energy standards for utilities. Raising the current standard from 10 to 25 percent would require a massive and beyond-reasonable amount of wind turbines to be built in Michigan, they say.
About 5 percent of the Jackson-based utility’s electricity comes from renewable sources, and that is expected to increase to 8 percent when the company’s first wind farm in Mason County starts up this year, company officials have said.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done,” Russell said at the shareholders meeting. “We’re ahead of schedule and I’m proud to see us going forward with it. Let’s get to the 10 percent and see what happens.”
Mark Muhich, chairman of the central Michigan group of the Sierra Club, was outside of CMS Energy’s headquarters Friday and is in support of the ballot initiative.
“I think it would be a really good way for Consumers to continue the successful program they have,” he said. “We think it’s time that Michigan gets off of coal. There’s a huge opportunity in the future for clean, green energy.”
Blissfield residents and siblings Josh and Laura Van Camp were also outside of the shareholders meeting and are opposed to the ballot initiative.
“It’s going to lead to higher energy costs in Michigan,” said Josh Van Camp, who along with his sister, is part of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition. “With the impact that these wind turbine projects have on the community, it’s not worth the impact.”
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