LANSING, MI – Major utility companies, along with other business and labor leaders, are organizing a campaign against a ballot proposal to increase Michigan’s renewable energy standards.
The Clean Affordable Renewable Energy (CARE) for Michigan Coalition is holding press conferences throughout the state, saying the proposal would be too costly to Michigan consumers.
“We are not opposed to renewable energy; however we are opposed to locking it into the state’s constitution,” said spokeswoman Megan Brown.
The group believes that any increases to the state’s renewable energy mandate should go through the legislative process.
Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs, the group behind the ’25 by 25’ ballot initiative, expects to submit more than enough signatures to get the proposal on the November ballot.
It would amend the state constitution to require Michigan electric utilities to derive at least 25 percent of their energy from clean renewable sources by 2025. It also calls for providers to limit rate increases to a maximum of 1 percent per year to meet the standard.
The proposal has the support of the more than 120 business leaders and organizations, along with the mayors of Lansing, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Flint and Ferndale.
Opponents include the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan Manufacturers Association, Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, Utility Workers Union of America AFL-CIO and others.
Mark Fisk, spokesman for Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs, contends the opposition group doesn’t represent the business community at-large or most Michigan residents.
“We are not surprised that big utility companies are resisting change and innovation and the wishes of their own customers and rate payers,” Fisk said. “They will do anything and say anything to protect the status quo, their monopoly status and their profits.”
Opposition group CARE has the backing of the state’s major electric utilities. Detroit-based DTE Energy is listed as the coalition’s treasurer, and Jackson-based Consumers Energy has also spoken out against the proposal.
The utilities say they’re about halfway toward achieving goals set out in a 2008 law that requires 10 percent of Michigan’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2015.
“That was an ambitious, prudent and well thought-out goal to establish for the state, so we think letting that play itself out and looking at where we are in 2015 makes the most sense,” said DTE spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba.
If the state’s utilities used wind turbines to meet the proposed requirement, it would take 3,100 turbines at the cost of $12 billion, said Consumers spokesman Jeff Holyfield.
“There is a cap in there but the fact is that 1 percent cap won’t cover the cost of doing that, and that cap is certain to be challenged in court,” Holyfield said. “If the cap is shut down, then Michigan electric customers will end up paying sharply higher bills.”
Supporters of raising the renewable mandate say other states have increased their renewable energy without significant rate hikes for consumers.
They also point to the fact that Consumers Energy recently lowered its monthly renewable energy surcharge since the utility’s cost of complying with current standards has decreased.
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