Despite 'green' failures, group wants state to produce 25% of its energy by 2025
Editor's note: This story has been edited from its previous version, an inadvertent error has been removed.
Petitions are being circulated for a proposal to saddle Michigan with an ever higher renewable energy mandate.
The Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs Initiative (MEMJI) also called “25 by 25" wants to put the proposal on the Nov. 6 statewide ballot. Its goal is to collect 500,000 signatures. If enacted, the proposal would require that 25 percent of Michigan’s energy come from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass by 2025.
Under Michigan's current energy law passed in 2008, 10 percent of Michigan's energy is supposed to come from renewable sources by 2015.
In terms of costs and efficiency, the existing requirement is already problematic.
Rhetoric for the "25 by 25" proposal could have come from old “green job” speeches made by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. According to one of the websites for the proposal, the measure would “create thousands of jobs for Michigan workers and attract $10 billion in new investments to our state.”
A key question regarding costly renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, is whether anyone would use them if government didn't mandate it.
Earlier this month, a spokesman for the proposal was quoted by an online publication saying the petition drive was ahead of schedule. Other aspects of the initiative might be ahead of schedule as well — such as funding.
Campaign disclosures for ballot proposals aren't usually available for the public to view until after signatures are turned in to the Secretary of State. However, an already existing ballot proposal committee called “Citizens For Wind Energy” could provide a sneak preview of major contributors who are behind the proposal.
CFWE was initially created to get a pair of Huron County wind energy ordinances passed in November 2010. The ordinances allowed the creation of overlapping wind energy districts in the townships of McKinley, Bloomfield, Rubicon and Sigel.
Some heavy hitters among “green energy” companies kicked in with contributions. Both of the proposals passed.
However, the CFWE committee did not die after the 2010 election. It still exists, and has been picking up new contributions, particularly last August. Secretary of State Spokesman Fred Woodhams said that money could be used for the new "25 by 25" proposal.
“It could also be used for other ballot proposals," he said.
In the CFWE committee's annual disclosure report, filed with the Secretary of State at the end of January 2012, the committee's balance was $16,149.68. The amount received during the reporting period was listed at $20,730. The subtotal listed for the committee (which includes dollars from previous periods) was $31,732. The amount expended during reporting period was listed as $15,582.32.
Mary Doster, of Mason, who is identified with Accountant Sage Consultants LLC, is listed as the treasurer of CFWE. She did not return phone calls to inquire whether the committee is associated with this year's 25 by 25 proposal, and whether any of the committee's funds would be used to boost that ballot effort.
The new contributions to the CFWE committee in August were from RES American Developments Inc., $5,000; Exelon, $5,000; Barton Malow, $4,000; Geronimo Wind Energy, $3,500; and Heritage Sustainable Energy, $2,000.
Res American Developments already appears prominently on one of the 25 by 25 ballot proposal's websites.
Neither Detroit Edison, which contributed $10,000 to the CFWE committee in 2010, nor Consumers Energey, which gave $5,000, support the "25 by 25" plan.
“We fully support the current standards from the 2008 energy package,” DTE spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said when asked if DTE would support the new effort to increase the renewable energy quota.
CMS spokesman Jeff Holyfield said CMS opposes the "25 by 25" proposal.
“We made our contribution to that committee because we supported those local zoning proposals in 2010," Holyfield said. "It had nothing to do with supporting anything else.”
Holyfield said he had not been aware that a ballot question committee could continue after an election and then have its money used for a different ballot proposal.
“I would think that they already spent the money we contributed on the local proposals that we supported,” Holyfield said. “I hope the money they'll be using going forward is from new contributions.”