On November 6, 2012, voters will be asked to amend the 1963 Michigan Constitution to add a Section 55 to Article IV (Legislative Branch). Proposal 2012-03, which is on the statewide ballot as a result of petitions circulated by Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs, seeks to make it a constitutional policy of the state to promote and encourage the use of clean renewable electric energy sources.
Michigan’s current renewable energy standard, created by Public Act 295 of 2008, calls for investor-owned utilities, alternative retail suppliers, electric cooperatives, and municipal electric utilities to generate 10 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2015. Adoption of Proposal 2012-03 supposes that PA 295 would be amended to comply with the new constitutionally enhanced requirements. Without adoption of Proposal 2012-03, policymakers could still revisit the issue of renewable energy in the future and make legislative changes to require that a higher percent of total energy be generated from renewable sources, alter the types of renewable technologies that qualify under the act, and/or amend the manner in which compliance is monitored and credits are rewarded.
Clean Renewable Electric Energy
Efforts to promote clean renewable energy are often associated with the politically charged issue of climate change, but there is a general recognition that the production of energy from finite resources, such as fossil fuels, is unsustainable over the long run. Conversion to clean energy is also desirable because it can reduce negative externalities. For example, the consumption of fossil fuels – e.g., coal, nuclear power, and natural gas – can be bad for the environment, because they introduce elements such as mercury and sulfur dioxide into the environment. These elements are known to cause adverse health effects, such as increased occurrence of asthma. Additionally, it is hoped that increased use of clean renewable energy, and thus reduced reliance on fossil fuels will lessen the United States’ dependence on many of the top oil producing countries. Efforts to increase clean renewable electric energy production are aimed at mitigating all of these effects of the use of finite resources for energy production.
Details of the Proposal 2012-03
The proposed constitutional amendment would require that at least 25 percent of each electricity provider’s annual retail electricity sales be derived from the generation or purchase of electricity produced from clean renewable electric energy sources by 2025. It would require that the facilities used to generate clean renewable energy be located within Michigan or within the retail customer service territory of any electric utility operating in Michigan. And it would set limits on the extent to which compliance with this provision may cause rates charged to electricity customers to increase.
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