MLive Media Group: Vote no on Michigan's Proposal 3; renewable energy plan doesn't add up
Although renewable energy is a worthy goal, this proposal is flawed because it handcuffs the state's economic and political future.
The proposal would replace current law that requires utilities like Consumers Energy and DTE Energy to generate 10 percent of their power from green sources by 2015. It lays out an unrealistic road map for that to happen, by capping increases to customer rates at 1 percent a year to pay for the projected $15 billion investment.
Who, then, would pay to build some 3,000 windmills in Michigan? The proposal's supporters don't say.
Most of the financial support for this proposal comes from out of state. Groups from California and New York are looking to profit or push their ideology on Michigan.
That, too, is where much of the money from the hoped-for investment in windmills and solar panels will go, to out-of-state companies that are selling their products.
Sure, jobs would be created, but there's nothing to keep that work or that money in Michigan's borders. The country that manufactures the most wind turbines is not the United States. It's China. With so much concern about federal debt being held overseas, it's hard to fathom approving a state constitutional amendment that would send our dollars across the Pacific, too.
But there is a more fundamental concern: This proposal rewrites the constitution. There is a reason no other state has enshrined a green energy standard in its constitution. It would be a mistake for Michigan voters to lock the state into a policy when no one can foresee the consequences.
The backers of Proposal 3 suggest aggressive action is necessary. They voice strong skepticism that state lawmakers, who put the 10 percent standard into place four years ago, would push Michigan to do more. That argument shows little faith in voters, as if they were incapable of electing representatives who back an environmental agenda.
And the proposal's boosters ignore that the current law and the market already are pushing Michigan toward more renewable energy. Windmillsâ€¨and solar panels are becoming more affordable, and that will naturally drive Consumers Energy and DTE Energy to turn away from coal-burning plants. It shouldn't take action at the ballot box to get to a greener future.
Give supporters credit for good intentions if you will, but their method is wrong. This proposal does not add up. Some of the much-touted economic benefits will bleed out of Michigan. And the state constitution is no place for it.
This endorsement is the opinion of the editorial board of MLive Media Group, the parent company of MLive.com. The board is made up of the company's executive leadership, content directors and editors who oversee the 10 local markets that make up MLive Media Group.