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Tuesday, 04 September 2012 10:39

Proposal to spur jobs, innovation

Written by  Mark Fisk
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This Nov. 6, Michigan voters will have the opportunity to help rebuild Michigan’s manufacturing sector and put people back to work, by passing the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs ballot proposal to increase our state’s renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025.

According to a study by Michigan State University economists, going to 25 by 2025 will create at least 74,000 jobs and generate $10.3 billion in new investments.

This proposal also protects ratepayers and businesses, by explicitly stating that utilities cannot raise electricity prices related to the cost of generating renewable energy by any more than 1 percent on any given year. That’s no more than $1.25 a month for the average Michigan household.

In addition to its economic and job-creating potential, the proposal will help reduce dangerous pollution from Michigan’s aging coal plants. By using more renewable energy, we can better protect our air and water and reduce rates of childhood asthma, lung diseases and other illnesses. That’s why the Michigan Nurses Association supports 25 by 2025.

Here in West Michigan, these are especially important opportunities. The region is home to small businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators who are retooling, designing and building the parts that go into wind turbines, solar arrays, bio-energy generators and other clean energy devices. Passing 25 by 2025 means strengthening the market for Michigan-made energy — and that benefits businesses and workers in the region.

The status quo is no longer sustainable. Michigan ratepayers spend $1.7 billion importing coal from other states. Nearly 60 percent of our electricity comes from coal and 100 percent of it is imported.

Ratepayers and businesses are paying the price because of our dependence on imported coal and a status protecting the monopoly of utilities.

Business-as-usual has led to double-digit increases for ratepayers, giving Michigan among the highest electricity rates in the region while lagging behind in the clean energy race, according to a report commissioned by diverse groups, including the Michigan Retailers Association, Michigan Agri-Business Association, Energy Choice Now and a host of Michigan companies.

More renewable energy increases competition and helps bring down costs as innovations reach the marketplace and technology improves. Ten years ago, flat screen TVs cost $6,000. Today, that TV is under $450. The same economies of scale apply to renewable energy.

According to the Michigan Public Service Commission, renewable energy today is $58 per megawatt/hour cheaper than building a new coal plant. Furthermore, 30-plus states have renewable energy standards similar to Michigan’s ballot initiative .

That’s why hundreds of businesses all along West Michigan support the bipartisan 25 by 2025 proposal, joining manufacturers across the state, health care professionals, agriculture and rural communities, faith leaders, environmental organizations and more.

By passing the 25 by 2025 proposal, Michigan can jump back into the clean energy race, create jobs and move our economy forward.

Mark Fisk is spokesman for Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs.

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