Michigan’s Ballot Proposal 3: You CAN Have Your Cake and Eat it Too
We in the United States consume a lot of energy. It’s no wonder some of our richest companies are energy producers. So why do we have to encourage the production of energy through legislation?
I ask this with a view to Michigan’s ballot proposal 3 (reproduced below). The answer is that we are trying to “encourage” the production of energy from particular sources: renewable or green energy sources like wind, solar and hydroelectric. The problem is that it costs more money to produce energy from wind, sun and water, than it costs to burn things like coal or natural gas, or even to harness energy from splitting atoms.
Are people clamoring to pay more for their electricity in Michigan? Voters in Flint don’t seem to appreciate recent increases in the cost of water. I doubt they’d volunteer to pay more for electricity either. That’s where government can play a role. Why not require that a certain amount of the state’s energy come from renewable resources? Oh yeah, because that would increase the cost of energy, which makes people unhappy. Politicians try to avoid making people unhappy, at least in large, majority-producing numbers.
In October 2011, the Manhattan Institute concluded that getting to 20% renewable energy in the U.S. would raise the cost of energy by up to 48%.
Ballot proposal 3 doesn’t make this case. Michigan voters are not being asked to pay what it would really cost to get Michigan to 25% renewable energy. After identifying the 25% goal for renewable energy, ballot proposal 3 limits to 1% the increase in cost for energy. In other words: ‘Go ahead and eat this cake. You’ll still have it. Honest.’
As a result, the third part of this ballot proposal allows annual deferments on the 25% requirement if implementing would lead to increases in cost over 1%. Again, in other words: ‘You have to get to 25% renewable energy unless you can’t. When you can, then you have to.’ This proposal is a mess. Brenda Brissette-Mata focused on the last section of the proposal when we discussed it on WNEM TV5’s Weekend Talk Back segment. She likes the possibility it will bring jobs to Michigan. (She likes ponies too.)
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION
TO ESTABLISH A STANDARD FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY
This proposal would:
Require electric utilities to provide at least 25% of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources, which are wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower, by 2025.
Limit to not more than 1% per year electric utility rate increases charged to consumers only to achieve compliance with the renewable energy standard.
Allow annual extensions of the deadline to meet the 25% standard in order to prevent rate increases over the 1% limit.
Require the legislature to enact additional laws to encourage the use of Michigan made equipment and employment of Michigan residents.
Should this proposal be approved?