Environment Picture

Top Ten reasons to vote yes on Proposal 3, the 25% renewable energy ballot measure

1.  It creates good jobs that can’t be outsourced

A minimum of 74,000 jobs would be created by the adoption of the 25 by 2025 proposal, according to a Michigan State University study released this summer. The jobs number, expressed as “job years,” could top 100,000 with the manufacturing sector boost that wasn’t added into the study’s numbers. And these are jobs that stay in Michigan. A separate study, from the Environmental Law and Policy Center, quantified 241 Michigan companies making products in the wind and solar supply chains alone. We need to keep that momentum going. 

 2.  It keeps our money at home

Michiganders spend $7.5 billion each year to buy electricity. Roughly $1.5 billion of it is sent to buy coal from other states to fuel our aging, dirty power plants. That money permanently leaves Michigan’s economy. We’d rather keep some of that money in Michigan to pay our friends and neighbors to engineer, design, build, and maintain wind farms, solar arrays and other Michigan-made renewable energy systems. 

 3.  It costs less

Renewable electricity in Michigan costs significantly less than electricity from a new coal plant. The most recent Michigan Public Service Commission analysis showed renewable energy costs at less than $70 per megawatt hour (MWh) and dropping. Electricity from a new coal plant would cost between $107 and $133/MWh—and the cost of coal is rising. 

4.  It’s healthier 

Pollution from coal-fired power plants scars lungs, poisons fish and results in billions of dollars of damages and costs every year. An MEC report showed that Michiganders pay $1.5 billion in health costs and damages annually—and that’s only one type of pollution from just nine Michigan coal plants. Asthma, cardiac disease and premature deaths all result from coal pollution. The costs are not included in electric rates, but passed along in health care costs. 

 5.  It protects ratepayers 

Because 60 percent of our power generation comes from coal, price fluctuations can dramatically impact our bills. That’s been true recently—coal delivered to Michigan is 71 percent more expensive than just four years ago. You see that reflected in your rates. Creating a system where one-quarter of the electric system’s fuel costs will always be free of charge (the fuels are wind and sun, primarily) will help provide certainty for ratepayers and stability for the utility companies. 

6.  It protects Pure Michigan

Dangerous coal emissions and byproducts harm our waterways and wildlife. Mercury from power plants contaminate fish, leading to consumption advisories that harm our tourism industry and undermine the Pure Michigan image. Coal ash piles are toxic risks to our Great Lakes waterways, as are myriad contaminants released during the combustion process. Michigan power plants released 15 million tons of toxic pollutants in 2010. 

7.  It reduces climate pollution

Greenhouse gas pollutants that accelerate global climate change would be reduced if the 25 by 2025 proposal passes. Power plants are the largest stationary source of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Michigan’s Monroe Power Plant (DTE Energy) was the sixth-highest emitter of climate pollution among the nation’s power plants. 

8.  We’re falling behind

More than 30 states have renewable energy standards. Michigan’s current 10 percent standard is tied for last place. In the Great Lakes region they include Illinois, Ohio, and Minnesota—all with 25 percent by 2025; Pennsylvania (18 percent by 2021) and New York (29 percent by 2015). Nearby Iowa already generates more than 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. The states that embrace renewable energy are the states where cutting-edge clean energy companies want to locate. 

9.  It’s a gift to our grandkids 

Fossil fuels won’t last forever. And most indications are that they will become increasingly unaffordable as the easy-to-extract fuels are exhausted. In 2060, the wind farms or coal plants we build today will still be producing electricity. We need to choose wisely with them in mind. 

10.  It caps cost increases

The measure includes a provision requiring the 2025 deadline to be extended if rate increases due to the ballot measure exceed 1 percent a year. 

How to get involved, be informed 

Numerous resources are available for those wanting to learn more about Proposal 3: 

Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs is the broad-based coalition supporting the measure: 
http://mienergymijobs.com  

Michigan Environmental Council will be tracking key developments and sharing the newest data and information about renewable energy in Michigan and Proposal 3: 
http://environmentalcouncil.org 

The Michigan Public Service Commission analyzed the costs, challenges and benefits of renewable energy in Michigan in a report earlier this year: 

A Michigan State University study estimated at least 74,000 jobs would be created from 25 by 2025: 

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