Proposition 3, sponsored by by Michigan Energy-Michigan Jobs (MEMJ), would have forced utilities to produce 25 percent of Michigan’s electricity by 2025 from renewable sources, primarily industrial wind. Despite national backing and a lot of money spent, Michigan voters rejected the “25×25″ measure by a 64–36% margin.
Clearly, the voters saw through what would have been effectivity a tax increase on electricity which would threaten to endanger reliability as well.
This initiative was hardly local. It was driven by national pressure groups like the Sierra Club with their backing by natural gas company Chesapeake Energy, and the League of Conservation Voters, also heavily funded by deep-pocketed elites.
MEMJ itself was funded largely by the Green Tech Action Fund of San Francisco and the Natural Resources Defense Fund of New York, both darlings of green industrialists, particularly Tom Steyer, a California hedge fund billionaire.
These carpetbagger activists placed a bull’s-eye on Michigan ratepayers with Proposal 3. The Sierra Club was blunt: “If successful, the [Michigan] 25×25 initiative will send an important signal to the nation that public desire to move toward green energy remains strong.”
Answering the Sierra Club, Michigan ratepayers shouted that there is no such “public desire.” In fact, there is widespread opposition to mandating forest-denuding biomass and massively expensive solar. But the hottest conflict centers on industrial wind.
Michigan Wind Power … Exposed
Local Michigan wind projects have lost at the ballot box virtually every time they have been put to the vote in a fair manner, and by similar margin.. In Lenawee County, Riga Township rejected wind-friendly zoning by 64–36 percent.
Two more Lenawee Townships then followed suit. In Huron County, Lake Township removed a wind friendly ordinance by a similar 61-39 percent. And in Clinton County townships are currently adopting restrictive police power regulationsfor wind energy installations, in defiance of too-permissive county level zoning.
We have also learned that Prop 3’s opposition was strongly bipartisan. The proposal’s miles of wind turbines were opposed by both the free-market Americans for Prosperity and Michael Moore movie producer Jeff Gibbs.
Prop 3 also broke the big utilities’ code of silence on wind inefficacy. MEMJ correctly exposed CMS Energy’s duplicity on this issue – observing that CMS praised its new Ludington area wind plant for furnishing “reliable and affordable energy,” even as its public relations surrogate Care for Michigan was calling wind “expensive and unreliable.”Unfortunately for MEMJ, Care for Michigan was being truthful.
In the past, opponents of renewable energy have pointed out that wind energy is parasitic – totally dependent on fossil fuels for viability. And though they knew these to be legitimate objections, the big utilities stood silent. Their beloved existing 10 percent renewable mandate, PA295,had restored their monopoly status and guaranteed them nice profits, in exchange for a small number of renewable projects. They were not interested in biting the legislative hand that was (and is) feeding them.
But Prop 3 brought all stick and no carrot. The utilities could no longer remain silent. Out came the truth. Wind cannot replace fossil fuel plants. Wind is not cheaper, but is far more expensive than current generation. Wind’s increased energy costs would cost employment in Michigan’s energy intensive manufacturing sector. And wind energy cannot liberate us from foreign oil or from out-of-state coal imports.
So what then does our autopsy of 25×25 reveal? Proposal 3’s death was a suicide by gluttony.
On the exam table of Proposal 3, Michigan wind has been dissected and eviscerated by public opinion. Michigan renewable energy mandates – including PA295 – are doomed.
The people have spoken. The sooner our elected officials zip the death bag shut and send the corpse out for burial, the sooner Michigan can protect its rural areas from needless industrialization and our energy intensive industries from rising electricity costs that compromise their competitive edge.
Other state and federal officials should take notice–and begin thinking in terms of repealing mandates instead of expanding them, as recommended in model legislation passed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), aptly titled the Electricity Freedom Act.
Kevon Martis is Senior Policy Analyst for the Interstate Informed Citizen’s Coalition in Blissfield, Michigan.