August 26, 2012
Editorials, Michigan

Voters should reject renewable energy amendment

The Oakland Press | 26 August 2012

Generating 25 percent of Michigan’s energy through green means by 2025 is a great idea, but it is not scientifically possible or fiscally responsible.

On Nov. 6, state voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment that would require 25 percent of energy sold in Michigan to be generated by renewable sources by 2025. Only 323,000 signatures were needed and the Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs filed 530,000 petition signatures.

Already Michigan has legislation in place, passed in 2008, that requires Michigan to generate 10 percent of its electricity from renewal sources. Renewal sources are wind, solar, biomass and hydro. Geo-thermal energy is not part of the constitutional amendment question.

Thirty states already have requirements higher than Michigan’s current 10 percent statutory requirement. Michigan Energy estimates the new standard will generate 56,000 jobs and $10 billion in new investments.

However, the Clean Affordable Renewal Energy for Michigan coalition, comprised of DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association and Detroit Regional Chamber, vehemently opposes the constitutional amendment.

Michael Johnston, vice president for government affairs for the Michigan Manufacturing Association, said if the 25 percent energy requirement passes, jobs will be lost in the state rather than be gained.

Ken Sikkema, a Public Sector Consultant and former state lawmaker, said generating electricity from wind simply won’t work in the state.

“It will cost $12 billion to generate 25 percent of the state’s electricity using wind turbines by 2025,” he said. Sikkema added that generating the 25 percent via solar would cost $40 billion.

As for hydro-electricity, Johnston said Michigan is “all tapped out.”

He said energy costs are a significant part of business and rather than create the jobs that are promised by the Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs entity, “you will see a net loss of jobs in Michigan” if the constitutional amendment is passed.

Sikkema said Michigan would be locked into renewal energy from solar and wind if the measure passes, and he is concerned that technological improvements in energy generation may not be able to be used because the state is locked into the constitutional amendment.

On its face, the amendment seems like a good idea, but it is not practical. It would send jobs packing, and solar, wind and geo-thermal sources cannot yet replace coal, natural gas or nuclear energy. Voters should reject the proposal.

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