October 26 2012
Renewable Recession: Michigan’s Renewable Energy Standards
The weeks leading into a November election are littered with presidential debates and campaigning. Congressional and gubernatorial races work hard to get a word in edge wise, much more so city and state legislative races.
Which is why voters showing up to the polling price are often surprised by the propositions on the ballot. Michigan voters, however are considering several propositions that are getting airtime and raising concerns across the nation.
One such, Proposition 3, is an addendum to a law passed in 2008 that requires 10 percent of retail electricity sales to come from renewable energy sources by 2015. The proposition expands this requirement to 25 percent by 2025.
Most Americans want a cleaner, healthier environment. However, the truth is that renewable energy is more expensive, and Michigan families know better than most other states how slow the recovery has been. I applaud Michigan for putting this decision into the hands of voters given the impact it will have on Michigan families’ daily lives.
Natural gas and coal create 67 percent of our nation’s electricity because they are much cheaper than wind, solar, or other renewable energy sources. Should Proposition 3 pass, both renewable energy standards will increase the average household’s electricity bill by $180 per year. Electricity is something that everyone needs to have--regardless of income level. When nearly one in five children in Michigan live in poverty, this extra $180 in living expenses per year that Michigan families will have tacked on to their electricity bill will mean real hardship for many.
Higher energy costs also mean businesses will have to spend more on utilities instead of hiring and investing in growth. Michigan is expected to lose 10,054 jobs as a result of the renewable energy standards. To put this into context, Michigan’s unemployment rate is already higher than the national unemployment rate by 1.5 percent points.
Michigan voters have been through the recession, and they know better than most what it means to “struggle,” “tighten their belts,” or “bear the brunt” of a bad economy. Stricter renewable energy standards are thus the opposite of what the state needs at this time.