Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

October 30, 2012

Forum: Prop 3 will grow state's economy

On Nov. 6 Michiganders have the opportunity to create jobs, boost economic growth and drive new investment to the state by voting "yes" on Proposal 3 to increase Michigan's renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025.

As someone working with the community to create a new wind development, I support Proposal 3 because it will help create jobs and generate local tax revenue.

Right now, nearly 60 percent of Michigan's electricity comes from coal imported from other states. In 2011, Michigan ratepayers sent $1.7 billion — and the jobs that go with it — to other states to finance our coal dependence. The cost of importing coal has gone up 71 percent since 2006 — and will only keep increasing.

It's time to stop exporting our money and jobs to other states and start investing in building Michigan's clean energy future.

In contrast, moving to renewable energy helps grow Michigan's clean energy industry by keeping that money at home. There are 8,000 parts in a wind turbine, and all of those can be made in Michigan.

This proposal encourages the hiring of Michigan workers and the use Michigan-made equipment, helping Michigan flex its manufacturing muscle to become a leader in the clean energy sector.

Proposal 3 is about growing Michigan's economy and putting Michiganders back to work. According to economists at Michigan State University, adopting a renewable energy standard of 25 percent by 2025 will generate $10.3 billion in new investments and create 94,000 Michigan jobs.

More than 30 other states have already adopted measures similar to this proposal, including Midwest states like Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. In fact, the Illinois Power Agency reported its renewable energy standard reduced electricity prices by $176 million and is creating jobs. Michigan can't afford to sit on the sidelines while our neighbors pass us in the clean energy race.

Proposal 3 will help rein in rising energy costs for consumers. Just as technological advances have reduced the price of things like flat-screen TVs and computers, they have also brought down the price of renewable energy. A report issued by the Michigan Public Service Commission found that renewable energy is now less expensive than new coal power.

Proposal 3 also protects consumers by explicitly stating that utilities cannot raise electricity prices related to the cost of generating renewable energy by any more than 1 percent per year. According to an independent study by a leading consumer advocate, that will mean no more than 50 cents a month for the average Michigan household.

In addition to rebuilding Michigan's manufacturing industry and sparking innovation, Proposal 3 will also protect public health by reducing dangerous coal pollution that causes respiratory diseases, and pollutes our Great Lakes, rivers, land and air.

Getting more of our electricity from renewable sources is good for Michigan's consumers, workers and businesses.

That's why Proposal 3 has broad bipartisan support that includes hundreds of businesses, health professionals, faith leaders, Democrats and Republicans, labor and conservation groups who stand with me in urging a "yes" vote.

About the author: Doug McInnis is president of Leelanau Community Wind. A retired engineer, he heads a group of local citizens who have installed a 120-kW wind turbine that supplies 50 percent of the power to the Leelanau Township/Northport wastewater treatment plant.

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 e-mailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.

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