Proposal 3 Would Cost Michigan $12 Billion

Voters arrive and depart during early voting at a polling place at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, M
Voters arrive and depart during early voting at a polling place at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Md., Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, after superstorm Sandy passed through the area. Early voting resumed in Maryland Wednesday after two days of cancellations due to superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

At first glance, Proposal 3 looks like a great idea. Proponents claim it will create thousands of new Michigan jobs, improve the environment and lower electric bills for Michigan families and businesses.

Look a bit more and you start to see the troubling details: If Proposal 3 passes, Michigan would be the first state in the nation to lock a renewable energy mandate in its constitution. There's no plan for how Proposal 3 will make all its promised benefits happen. Another detail conveniently overlooked is that Michigan already has a reasonable and affordable renewable energy standard, 10 percent by 2015.

Finally, you hit the biggest, baddest detail of them all. Proposal 3 would cost $12 billion. And Michigan's families and businesses would get stuck paying for it. There's no way you can dump $12 billion in increased costs on to families and businesses and have their bills go down. The exact opposite would occur. Folks would pay higher electric bills for years to come.

Frankly, the state constitution isn't the place to set detailed energy policy. That's the Legislature's job. It says so right in the constitution.

The existing 10 percent standard was created in 2008 as part of a comprehensive energy policy put in place after nearly two years of research, analysis and discussion. Business, labor, environmental groups, and others agreed that a 10 percent standard was right for Michigan. We need to reach the 10 percent mark by 2015 and then evaluate it and see if it should be raised or changed.

Let me be clear, I support renewable energy. But I oppose Proposal 3 because it's bad for Michigan. Proposal 3 would force Michigan to gamble $12 billion on today's renewable energy technology. That doesn't make sense when the renewable energy sector is in the midst of an impressive round of research and development. The wind turbines built and erected 20 years ago look elementary compared to today's models. And who knows what new technology will be available in five or 10 years?

If Proposal 3 is approved, new technology won't matter for Michigan. To put it in cell phone terms: We'd be stuck with a flip phone -- and paying $12 billion for outdated technology -- even though smart phones were available. That's why no other state has locked a renewable energy mandate such as Proposal 3 in its constitution. Such a mandate would eliminate the flexibility needed to take advantage of advancements in technology.

On top of that, Proposal 3 would change the face of Michigan. It would take 3,100 wind turbines, each taller than the Statue of Liberty, to meet the Proposal 3 mandate. That would require about half-a-million acres of land for wind farms. With so many turbines and so much land involved, the state likely would have to step in and override local zoning.

It's clear that the Michigan Constitution isn't the place to experiment with energy policy. Even President Obama hasn't called for a constitutional amendment for his energy policy.

The Clean Affordable Renewable Energy (CARE) for Michigan Coalition was formed to stop Proposal 3 and safeguard Michigan's energy future. I'm proud that CARE has bipartisan backing as well as support from a wide variety of business groups, labor organizations, plus economic development and agricultural groups.

The out-of-state billionaires trying to hijack Michigan's constitution don't seem to care about the harm that Proposal 3 would do to Michigan families and businesses. They don't live here or work here, so why should they care?

Let's protect Michigan's future and defeat this reckless $12 billion mandate. Vote "NO" on Proposal 3.