ESCANABA - A Michigan coalition is striving to pass a proposal this November that would require a minimum of 25 percent of Michigan's energy to come from clean, renewable sources.
The bipartisan coalition Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs consists of state businesses, labor organizations, health care advocates, and others.
The coalition supports increasing Michigan's renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025 through renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydropower.
According to the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs' website, the coalition recently submitted more than 530,000 signatures to the Secretary of State for the proposal to appear on the November ballot.
They believe the initiative would help the state build a clean energy industry for Michiganders to buy Michigan energy and to refrain from exporting money and jobs to other places.
Mark Fisk, spokesman for the coalition, noted that currently 60 percent of Michigan's electricity comes from coal imported from other places.
"We really view this as a jobs proposal," said Fisk, who claims that estimates project 56,000 jobs would be created should the proposal pass this November. The coalition also believes the initiative will bring $10 billion in new investments to the state.
"Our proposal will create jobs and it will lower utility costs for customers," said Fisk. "It will also improve human health by reducing pollution, protecting our Great Lakes, reducing asthma, and that's why groups like the Michigan Nurses Association support our proposal."
The group also claims the initiative will help expand Michigan's clean energy production without significantly increasing energy prices.
Fisk said the goal is to protect consumers by limiting rate increases to no more than 1 percent in any given year to comply with this proposed standard.
During a recent energy forum held at Bay College, state politicians and some local energy company representatives spoke out against the proposal, concerned that the initiative would cause a spike in energy prices and hurt industries in the state. However, Fisk believes this would not be the case.
"Thirty other states, including Midwestern states, have already passed measures similar to our proposal and have done so without significant increases to utility rates," he said. Fisk said that overall the proposal will be good for Michigan workers, small businesses, consumers, and kids.
"My advice to politicians ... is to listen to the voters and their constituents rather than the rhetoric of the big utility companies who will resist change, innovation, and moving into the future at all costs," he said.
Currently, Michigan's Renewable Energy Standard, established through 2008's Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act, requires electric providers "to achieve a retail supply portfolio that includes at least 10 percent renewable energy by 2015," according to the state of Michigan's Public Service Commission website.
For more information on the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs coalition and their proposal, visit www.mienergymijobs.com.