Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

October 26, 2012

Forum: Calif. blows Michigan's wind policy

Campaign finance reports show that November's ballot Proposal 3 to cement a 25 percent renewable energy requirement in Michigan's Constitution was paid for by well-moneyed groups from California, some with close ties to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. (Source: Gongwer News Service, Volume #51, Report #145)

San Francisco-based Green Tech Action Fund is the chief campaign contributor, pumping millions into Michigan to launch and pass Proposal 3 on the backs of Michigan families and businesses. In fact, the three largest contributors to Proposal 3 are all from California and, they are all bankrolled by yet another California entity called the Energy Foundation, located in San Francisco. (Source: Michigan Information & Research Service, 10/11/12)

What's even more galling is how these folks spent $1.8 million paying for the signatures needed to secure a spot on the November ballot. In other words, this ballot proposal is not the result of community input or statewide discussions about Michigan's energy policy by Michigan families and businesses. It is about special interest groups from outside of Michigan wanting to control our state's energy future for their own benefit.

In 2008, Michigan adopted its own renewable energy requirement (10 percent by 2015). This was only done after extensive bipartisan debate in the Legislature, along with contributions from most every other area of Michigan life — businesses and industry, local utilities, environmental stewards (including the Michigan Land Use Institute), energy efficiency experts and advocates looking out for the state's low-income households.

Prior to Proposal 3, (and the presidential election), there were no collaborative statewide or even regional discussions about boosting Michigan's renewable energy requirement from its current 10 percent goal. There were no community forums or opportunities to discuss and evaluate the pros and cons of Michigan's existing renewable energy path. Sadly, now our input on a complex and costly component of our energy policy is limited to a yes or no vote on a ballot proposal the size of campaign advertisement.

Supporters of this misguided proposal are still unable to answer basic questions: Why 25 percent? Will wind turbines be offshore or onshore? Where will they be located — Leelanau county coastline and/or Grand Traverse Bay? Who will decide appropriate turbine locations — local units of government or the Michigan Public Service Commission? At what cost? Paid for by whom? They have no plan.

Moreover, there has been no mention that California's average retail price for electricity is a whopping 31 percent more than Michigan's. (Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA 861, "Annual Electric Power Industry Report.")

California has no business in our energy policy, or our Constitution. I encourage all to vote "no" on Proposal 3. Let's stick with our own renewable energy plan that's working and not let California blow ours.

About the author: Steve Rawlings is the regional manager for DTE Energy. In 2008, he lobbied for support of a 10 percent renewable energy standard by 2015 for Michigan's utilities on behalf of DTE Energy. He is active on many regional environmental stewardship boards and energy policy committees.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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