Voting YES to Renewable Energy in Michigan

Coal-fired power plant on the Detroit River
Coal-fired power plant on the Detroit River. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant Extension
The Great Lakes were too hot this summer.

From Lake Michigan hitting 82 degrees in July to Lake Superior running 15 to 20 degrees above average–the lakes are showing the effects of our warming climate. The record hot waters surprised swimmers, shocked fish that could not survive the heat, and are making the Great Lakes more hospitable to invaders that harm native species.

On November 6th Michigan voters can cast their vote for the Great Lakes by voting YES on proposal 3, which would establish a stronger standard for renewable energy.

Proposal 3 is Michigan’s opportunity to fight global warming by requiring power companies to buy renewable energy for 25% of Michigan’s electricity by 2025–which will create jobs in Michigan–rather than spending money on harmful coal from other states and spewing harmful carbon and mercury pollution into air and water.

Get Ready to Vote

If you have not already voted, find your polling place and look at your ballot to research which candidates and proposals to support.

Take ActionMichigan voters, sign the pledge to vote YES on proposal 3–support renewable energy to fight harmful pollution from coal.

Harnessing Michigan’s Land-based Wind & Solar

Right now, nearly 60% of Michigan’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants whose carbon pollution drives climate change, and toxic mercury pollution poisons fish in our lakes.

Already, Michigan is on track to meet the state’s current renewable energy goal of 10% by 2015 and voting YES on proposal 3 is our chance to do even better. Renewable energy that is developed and sited to avoid impacting sensitive wildlife habitat is the long-term solution to reduce carbon pollution that drives climate change.

Michigan has enough wind and land energy to meet 25% renewable energy by 2025. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Michigan needs to harness just 8% of the more than 54,000 MW of high-quality, land-based wind generation potential of the state. Michigan also has more sunny days than Germany, one of the world’s leading producers of solar energy.

But, Michigan utilities oppose proposal 3, because they make more money burning coal and want to continue to do so even though Michigan families are paying huge rate increases caused in part by the rising prices of coal delivered to Michigan. That cost has increased 71 percent in the last four years. In addition to fueling climate change, pollution from burning coal contributes to respiratory illnesses.

Less Pollution, More Michigan Jobs

Proposal 3 specifically states that the legislature should enact incentives to encourage the use of Michigan workers and Michigan made goods.  A Michigan State University study determined that Proposal 3 will create at least 74,000 Michigan jobs that can’t be outsourced. Construction jobs account for more than 30,000, and operation and maintenance more than 40,000.

There will be another 40,000 jobs related to manufacturing the parts required to build the renewable energy facilities. With Michigan’s manufacturing talent and know-how, Michigan could capture 50 percent of that manufacturing market, increasing the number of jobs to 94,000.

Renewable Energy Amendment on a Living Constitution

Proposal 3 is a Michigan Constitutional Amendment, because the Michigan Constitution is much different from our federal Constitution.  The Michigan Constitution was designed to be a living document that reflects our values, and is designed to change with the times. That’s why it requires we vote every 16 years on whether to hold a convention to rewrite it. In fact, there have been 69 amendments offered since the latest overhauled version was adopted in 1963.

A major advantage of putting 25 by 2025 in the Michigan Constitution is that utilities cannot use their political influence to sway the Legislature and bypass the consumer protection measures, such as the 1% cap on rates on any given year.

Right now, Michigan is locked into outdated and expensive energy sources like coal for our electricity. But the Legislature won’t act because they have sold out to the big oil and coal companies, DTE, Consumers Energy and their lobbyists.

Thanks to proposal 3 being a Constitutional Amendment, Michigan voters are empowered to cast their ballot in favor of what is best for Michigan–not what further enriches utility companies.  As the Michigan The Oakland Press said, “To reject the proposal just because it entails a state constitutional amendment just further empowers wealthy lobbyists like those working for the utility companies.”

Help Make Calls for Michigan

Right now, it is crunch time and your chance to make a big impact in the fight for healthier wildlife, and cleaner air and water in Michigan.

This Tuesday, October 30th you can also help make sure we pass proposal 3 by joining hundreds of volunteers in making phone calls to Michigan citizens during our Day of Action–urging voters like you to support proposal 3.

Email for more information on making a big impact in Michigan.