Sunday, October 21, 2012

Michigan Proposition 3 2012

On to Proposition 3! In summary, Proposition 3 will require that 25% of Michigan's electricity be generated by renewable sources, that is wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric power. Furthermore, and here's where things get tricky, the proposal limits the increase in utility prices in order to achieve this goal to 1% per year. It also makes some provisions for extending the deadline so as to not exceed aforementioned price increase limit and requires the legislature to support using Michigan products and labor to meet this goal. Although this is all kind of confusing, I am inclined to go with YES on Proposition 3.

I am, in general, in support of renewable energy. Michigan enacted a law in 2008 requiring 10% renewable energy by 2015, while Proposition 3 does more than double the required amount of renewable energy, it also more than doubles the time to achieve the goal. Unfortunately, I could not easily find information as to how well utility companies are progressing toward the current goal, however, DTE Energy reports that they are doing great, and produced 5% of their energy through renewable methods in 2011. After all, who doesn't trust what giant utility companies have to say about themselves?

My biggest problem with Proposition 3 is that it is a constitutional amendment rather than an attempt to write something into law. Apparently if you try to get something put into law through Michigan's initiative process it goes to the Legislature first, then if they fail to act on it it goes on the ballot. Although Constitutional amendments have a higher signature requirement to get on the ballot, they bypass the Legislature entirely and go directly into law. Which is probably why all the propositions on this years ballot, with the sole exception of Proposition 1 to overturn previously enacted legislation, are Constitutional amendments. Although it makes sense why campaigners are doing it this way, I don't think this is something that really belongs in a state's Constitution. Furthermore, it would be nice for this issue to come up when we have a better idea how 10% in 2015 is going.

Finally, I feel a little awkward about deciding Michigan's fate until 2025, when I am unlikely to remain in the state for that long. However, I think it is a good idea, albeit perhaps a bit before its time, so I feel like supporting it, after all, who knows if it would be re-proposed in 2015 if it fails now. So a tentative yes on Proposition 3.

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