Friday, October 26, 2012

Ballot Proposal Mayhem Part III: It's Electrifying!

So we're almost halfway there, woo hoo!  I don't want to waste any of your time so other than telling you that you can find the post about Proposal 12-1 here and the post about Proposal 12-2 here we'll get going!

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?

First of all I want to say that I'm not against green energy at all.  I think it's great if we can move in the direction of using more renewable energy resources in an affordable manner.  We have a finite amount of fossil fuel and someday we may run out so it is our duty as responsible citizens to look for a way to do this better.  
That being said, this proposal is a little tough because there isn't much information out there about the mandate other than "25% by 2025"That is part of the main problem with this proposal.  According to research that I and others have done, the people who are pursuing this mandate give no plan as to how they are going to get to 25% once it's in the Constitution.  It's basically just a mandate with no plan at all.  When someone decides that they are going to build a house and they hire a contractor to do it for them, they expect the contractor to have a blueprint, a plan.  If there is no blueprint then the house either a) gets built incorrectly or more likely b) doesn't get built at all.  How do we expect to get to a place where 25% of the electricity we use is renewable if there is no logical plan.   
Another thing to think about is that in 2008 the state of Michigan passed the Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act, Act 295.  This is a well thought out and specific law that requires 10% of Michigan's electricity to be from renewable sources.  Various news sources have stated that the "plan" for the Constitutional mandate would be to amend Act 295 and update it to 25% by 2025, but that has not officially been stated anywhere that I could findl.  My husband had a good thought, he said,"let's see how this mandate works first, then decide if we need to go further". I think that's a great idea!
There is also a concern by people who are against this proposal about its source of the funding.  According to financial reports submitted to the Secretary of State's Bureau of Elections, significant amounts of money supporting this proposal have come from outside the state of Michigan (Finance Report).  The main claim is that California companies are behind the monetary contributions, but if you notice, you will see that there are companies from New York, Minnesota, California, Washington DC, and Illinois that have all contributed at least $250,000 and up to $1.8 million to this cause.  It causes one to wonder why companies outside of Michigan would have such a vested interest in this mandate.  There has been much speculation on this fact, the majority of which centers on how these companies stand to benefit handsomely from this mandate.  But because there is no clear plan on how to implement this mandate I'm not sure how that would work, it does make you wonder.
The last two issues are the possible increase of electricity rates and the Constitution.   While there is the bullet point in the proposal that states they will not increase the rates more than 1% per year it appears that is a short term solution and that in the long run rates will have to increase.  This is because currently the technology is not in place to make this happen and there will need to be an increase in rates to finance the creation of the technology.  
And finally (!) there is the concern with the Constitution.  Locking this mandate into the Constitution (especially when we have a perfectly good and potentially better mandate on the books as a law) is not the smartest thing we could do as we all know that technology is constantly changing.  Who knows how conditions might change and what technology may be available to us by the year 2025.  And my very last thought, this mandate in no way meets the purpose of the Constitution that I discussed in my post about Proposal 12-2.  That is all, thank you and good night!
My opinion on 12-3: Vote NO

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