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25 x 25 ballot initiative a bad move for Michigan

As chairman of the House Energy Committee, I have serious concerns about the 25 x 25 ballot initiative that voters will decide on Nov. 6. The proposal would change the Michigan Constitution, requiring that fully 25 percent of all electricity sold in Michigan come from a limited list of renewable sources by 2025.

First and foremost, energy policy is not a partisan, Lansing issue. Michigan residents need to understand that our energy policy requires an “all of the above” balanced approach that considers demand, reliability, backup power needs and cost – as well as flexibility. My committee has encouraged the use of all of our abundant resources, including Michigan natural gas, nuclear energy, coal, wind, sun and bio-fuels to fire up Michigan factories and to heat our homes. Forcing high percentages of inefficient and unreliable fuels into our energy mix is bad economics; and enshrining this same policy into Michigan’s Constitution is very dangerous.

Proponents argue that other states have high standards for renewable energy. However, they fail to mention that those standards are set by statute, never by constitution. In addition, not all states limit their renewable resources to such a narrow list, as this ballot proposal does. Those other states give themselves plenty of flexibility to properly manage their individual energy policies.

Voting this into the constitution is bad economics because it counts on under-developed technologies in some cases, and fails to consider the inefficiencies of renewable energies, such as wind and solar. Let me give you an example – DTE currently invests in 212 megawatts of wind energy capacity that runs about 40 percent of the time and sits on 30,000 acres of leased land. Just one automotive supplier in my district uses approximately 200 megawatts of energy, and they certainly need more than 40 percent reliability.

Michigan, for all the rough times, is still an industrial state, and requires strong baseload power to protect Michigan manufacturing jobs. Steelworkers and UAW members should take special note: This ballot proposal is a death warrant to Michigan manufacturing if Michigan fails to deliver reliable, 24/7 energy to run our factories and costs spike as high as 20 percent, like manufacturing leaders predict.

Speaking of costs, behind the voting curtain you’ll see a 1 percent cap on rates built into the ballot language.Folks, this is simply more California snake oil. Bureaucrats would be forced to sort through the vague ballot language to determine precisely what the 1 percent actually applies to.

By the time you realize what happened to your electric bill, the California checkbooks will be closed, and you’ll be left scratching your heads back here in Michigan, wondering what went wrong.

25 x 25 is bad policy because it enshrines into the constitution what was rejected in 2008. While some argued for a 25 percent standard, Michigan passed a bipartisan energy law that requires a more reasonable 10 percent from renewable sources, by 2015. We can’t predict five years from now what policies will be set by Washington, D.C., what the cost of fuels will be or what technologies will exist.

Chiseling this policy into the granite of our constitution is not the answer.I cannot support a proposal that ties the hands of Michigan residents to sensibly manage tomorrow’s energy needs.

State Rep. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, is chairman of the Michigan House Energy and Technology committee.