To fully comprehend the volume of work that went into Michigan’s 2008 energy policy, one must first understand why: if we, the Legislature, had missed our mark, the domino effect on Michigan citizens and the state’s economy could have mirrored the utility turmoil that engulfed California in the late 1990s.
Therefore, it was imperative for us to be comprehensive and deliberate to ensure the stability of an industry so critical to our economic future.
The bi-partisan and collaborative forces behind the 2008 Michigan Clean Renewable and Efficient Energy Act were painstakingly aware of how important it was to minimize negative impact on Michigan families and businesses while also taking into consideration several key factors.
The process that led to Michigan’s current energy law, which calls for the utilities to generate 10 percent renewables by 2015, includes a comprehensive set of reforms to increase investment in clean energy, create jobs, maintain reliability and provide affordable rates for consumers.
And that’s the rub. While the 2008 law was based on the essential elements of a sound energy policy – research-based, flexible, accountable and affordable – the “25 x 25” ballot initiative has a singular focus on a subset of renewable technologies, and completely ignores energy efficiency and other forms of clean energy.
Perhaps most importantly, no other state in the country has amended its constitution to set a renewable standard because smart energy policy requires flexibility to meet supply and demand; locking it into the state constitution would be foolish and impractical. And a financial drain on future generations to come.
The mandate to alter the Michigan Constitution to require the state utilities to produce 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2025 – no matter the cost – would burden ratepayers with a $12 billion tab.
Our state’s economy, which is just starting to regain some of its strength, would be knocked flat on its back again while a small number of investors benefit.
Supporters of the ballot initiative are trumpeting job creation claims in excess of 90,000 in Michigan alone when a recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy indicates the country’s wind turbine manufacturing sector has reached overcapacity. All of which makes it highly unlikely that many, if any, new wind manufacturing jobs will be based in Michigan anytime soon.
Meeting a 25 percent renewable energy standard would require an estimated 3,100 wind turbines throughout the state.
Because Michigan’s best wind zones are located along its Great Lakes shorelines, it will mean that thousands of wind turbines will have to be built on or near our beaches.
Without a specific plan in place, supporters of the 25 x 25 proposal are left to guess what future energy prices will be and what advances will be made in renewable energy technologies. The production of renewable energy sources in Michigan should be based on a number of factors, including cost, environmental considerations, electricity needs of customers, diversity of power generation portfolio standards and the price of power on wholesale markets.
We can’t afford to support this reckless, unreasonable, unreliable proposal – and neither can you.
Sen. Mike Nofs and Rep. Ken Horn both played instrumental roles in developing the 2008 Michigan Clean Renewable and Efficient Energy Act. Nofs, of Calhoun County, chairs the Senate Energy and Technology Committee; Horn, of Frankenmuth, chairs the House Energy and Technology committee.
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