Proposal Three: Amend the state constitution and require utilities to get 25 percent of their electricity sales from renewable sources by the year 2025

Vote Yes

By Mark Fisk

Spokesperson Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs

Proposal 3 is our best opportunity this year to create tens of thousands of Michigan jobs, rein in rising energy costs and protect public health and our Great Lakes. By voting yes on Proposal 3, we can move Michigan's economy forward and safeguard our quality of life.

Proposal 3 requires utility companies to generate 25 percent of our electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2025. To protect consumers and businesses, Proposal 3 limits rate increases as a result of the standard to no more than 1 percent in any given year. The proposal also encourages the hiring of Michigan workers and the use of Michigan equipment.

According to economists at Michigan State University, adopting Proposal 3 will create at least 74,000 jobs in operations, maintenance and construction. If Michigan captures 50 percent of the market--a conservative estimate--we will add another 19,675 manufacturing jobs, bringing the number of jobs from Proposal 3 to 94,000.

Proposal 3 will also help us rein in the high cost of energy by reducing our dependence on imported coal and foreign oil. It's no surprise then that big oil and energy companies say we can't afford Proposal 3. That is simply not true.

Studies show renewable energy will reduce the cost of your utility bills. The Michigan Public Service Commission found renewable energy is now cheaper than new coal. Proposal 3 protects consumers by prohibiting utility companies from raising rates more than 1 percent.

More than 30 other states have passed measures like Proposal 3. The Illinois Power Agency says their renewable energy standard has sparked, "significant job creation" and reduced electricity prices by $176 million.

We can't afford big oil and energy company lies.

Any modest cost to implement Proposal 3 is overshadowed by the double-digit rate increases Michigan families and businesses are shouldering year after year from the big utility companies that want to continue locking Michigan into outdated and expensive sources of energy like oil and dirty coal.

Nearly 60 percent of Michigan's electricity comes from coal, and all of that coal is imported from other states. In 2011, Michigan families and businesses sent $1.7 billion dollars to other states to finance our dependence on coal. The cost of importing coal has gone up 71 percent since 2006, and will only increase.

When the Legislature fails to act, Michigan voters have stepped up and changed the state constitution to do things, like cap property taxes for homeowners. In total, 32 amendments have been made by Michigan voters to our state constitution.

Proposal 3 is a responsible, forward-looking way to rebuild Michigan's economy, and provide momentum to our burgeoning renewable energy industry so Michigan can compete with other states and put people back to work.

In addition to rebuilding Michigan's manufacturing industry and keeping energy costs in check, Proposal 3 also will reduce dangerous pollution that harms public health and the health of our Great Lakes, rivers, air and land.

Emissions from coal plants contain toxic pollutants that cause serious ailments, from lung cancer and heart diseases to childhood asthma and neurological impairments in infants.

Proposal 3 will reduce pollution in our air and water, while also helping Michigan get off the sidelines and catch up with states that are ahead of us in the clean energy race.

Michigan's future depends on a "yes" vote for Proposal 3, which is why a broad and bipartisan coalition of more than 300 Michigan small businesses, the Michigan Association for Justice, public health advocates like the Michigan Nurses Association, the NAACP, labor unions, faith leaders, and environmental and conservation groups endorse it.

Vote No

By Attorney General Bill Schuette and Former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Conrad Mallett

Bipartisan cooperation among elected and appointed officials is such a rare occurrence these days that we're often surprised when members of rival political parties concur on hot-button issues.

This happens to be one of those times.

Proposal 3--the renewable energy ballot initiative -- is without a doubt one of the most egregious affronts on the Michigan Constitution that we've seen in some time. Michigan voters beware. If this proposal passes, Michigan would be the only state in the entire country to include an energy mandate in its constitution.

There's a very good reason why we have a Legislature: our Constitution is not the place for energy policy. Michigan has a renewable energy standard-- Public Act 295--in place to produce 10 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2015. It would be wise for the fiscal and constitutional health of this state to stay that course. Once that 2015 deadline is reached, the legislature can review whether additional changes are needed.

To change direction now, before the law has had a chance to run its course, would be both premature and irresponsible.

There's no clear reason why voters should consider a measure that would embed a rigid and costly mandate into our state's foundational document. Consumers Energy estimates that this measure would saddle the public with a $12 billion price tag for years to come. A recent Public Sector Consultants study pegged the current cost of renewable energy at levels running at least 67 percent higher than existing sources or energy.

You'd better believe this cost is going to end up draining Michigan residents' pocketbooks.

We agree with former Democratic Attorney General Frank Kelley and former Republican Attorney General Mike Cox along with businesses, labor organizations, agricultural groups and other local leaders that the Michigan Constitution is not the place to begin experimenting with energy law. The state's constitution was designed to protect people's rights and define the role of government, not to make and dictate energy policy. Raising the renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025 would eliminate the flexibility that is so essential for modern energy policy and indispensable when it comes to ensuring that the average consumer has safe, reliable and affordable electricity.

Out-of-state special interests funding this effort to hijack Michigan's constitution do not fully comprehend the negative effect it would have on Michigan families and businesses. And because they don't live or work here, why should they care?

To change Michigan's energy law by way of ballot initiative, or referendum, would bypass a more deliberative, well-informed and informative legislative process that fully engages the citizens of Michigan and enables them to understand why these changes are necessary and what the consequences of a constitutional amendment would mean.

The constitution is our founding document. We encourage all Michigan citizens to think of it that way. We're part of the growing opposition to this costly mandate and encourage voters to go to the polls and vote "No" on Proposal 3.

Published: Mon, Nov 5, 2012

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