OUR VIEW: Electricity could be blowin’ in the wind

By Daily News • Last Updated 10:01 am on Monday, October 15, 2012

Rarely have Michigan citizens, for that matter all Americans, faced election decision crossroads like the ones we’re facing this year.

Surely the move toward green energy is a national concern, but with the strength of our own state’s economy figuring largely in the consequences, let’s be reasonable about Michigan’s approach to renewable energy.

Michigan’s Ballot Proposal 3 is too big to swallow right now. It’s the one that mandates 25 percent of the state’s electricity coming from renewable energy sources by the year 2025. No doubt it’s an inspiring challenge, but how much attention to reality — and further economic stress — has been factored into this package? Moreover, what would be the real cost of this high-dollar gamble to Michigan homeowners and business?

Bottom line here is only wind energy, not biomass, hydro-electric, or solar energy can hope to produce the results required of this proposal in the timeline presented. Solar energy is not quite ready for prime time, as we have learned locally.

Wind turbines are very big, extremely expensive, and the price of the program is high, very high. Do we yet know how many turbines we’ll need, or where they’ll be?  We should all be concerned about protecting the environment, and green energy has its place, but the same goes for frugal budgets and flying birds.

We have yet to see a comprehensive plan of how this mandate would be achieved. An earlier mandate of 10 percent renewable energy by 2015 has not yet been met. Experience to date indicates that for the green energy movement, the net new jobs number is a negative. The cost of building the infrastructure necessary for this conversion will be enormous, and it will be billed directly to the ratepayers — that’s us. Of much greater import, utility costs are a critical factor in the location of new business and industries that would or could bring new jobs here. Michigan utility rates already rank among the highest in the nation.

Green energy is an admirable goal that should be pursued at a reasonable pace. We’d prefer to let the market and consumer demand dictate that pace. Locking this proposal into the Michigan constitution ties the hands of the legislature and restricts the ability of elected officials to navigate through unforeseen obstacles. The resulting uncertainty of it all ultimately acts as a deterrent to job growth.

We support a “no” vote on Proposal 3.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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