Gone in 48 Hours
Rep. Franz's Bill Would Put the Brakes on Clean Energy Jobs,
but Swift Response Stops It In Its Tracks
by Drew YoungeDyke
As you may have read by now, the Michigan Public Service Commission released a report just over a week ago which said that electricity providers were on track to meet Michigan’s renewable energy standard of 10% by 2015, and that getting there cost much less than they anticipated - so much so that Consumers Energy reduced their renewable energy surcharge by 75%. So what’s the next logical next step for a burgeoning clean energy manufacturing economy? According to Rep. Ray Franz (R - Onekama), it’s to scrap the renewable energy standard altogether.
What? Yeah, really. On Leap Day, Rep. Franz introduced HB 5447, which would repeal the sections of the 2008 Clean, Renewable, and Energy Efficiency Act that contain the renewable energy standard for electric utilities and the energy efficiency standards for natural gas providers. That’s quite a leap, indeed. We need to take advantage of the manufacturing gains we’ve made as a result of the 2008 standard, as highlighted in the State of the Union, and put the petal to the metal on clean energy job creation.
The MIRS News Service, widely read in the Capitol, quoted Michigan LCV Political Director Ryan Werder on this bill:
"Everyone from the utilities to the Governor to manufacturers to the Public Service Commission agree that the existing renewable energy standard works and that Michigan is on pace to meet it. The RES spurs investment in Michigan's expanding clean energy manufacturing sector that directly supports tens of thousands of jobs. Repealing it, as Rep. Franz is trying to do, would be sending a legislative pink slip to thousands of workers."
Both Consumers Energy and DTE told MIRS that they would continue their renewable enegy plans and that they oppose Rep. Franz's bill.
The 2008 standard is a great start, but since it was enacted, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio have enacted higher standards. When clean energy manufacturers are deciding where to locate their plants, you better believe that transportation and shipping costs are considered. They’re going to build new plants where the renewable energy demand is and where workers will be installing and maintaining clean energy facilities.
Michigan has unsurpassed manufacturing talent. We can out-compete other Great Lakes states for clean energy jobs as long as we can match them for renewable energy demand. That’s why the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs coalition has introduced the 25% by 2025 ballot initiative. It builds on the 2008 standard and contains a 1% rate cap, which means that utilities cannot raise rates more than 1% a year due to the standard. In light of the Public Service Commission report, though, it’s obvious that they won’t have to. As older coal plants reach the end of their useful lifespan, it’s cheaper to replace them with new wind farms than new coal plants.
Rep. Franz’s bill, though, would slam the brakes on clean energy job creation. It’s not the first anti-clean energy bill he’s introduced, either. His HB 4499 would ban offshore wind development, yet he supports oil drilling in the Great Lakes. It’s obvious why Michiganders oppose Great Lakes oil drilling - just remember the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill - but it’s not clear why anyone would oppose wind turbines on the lakes. Maybe he’s worried they’ll spill wind into Lake Michigan. Northern Michigan deserves better.
Even Michigan’s electric providers oppose HB 5447, so it’s unlikely to go anywhere. This bill was so bad and our response so swift that it took less than 48 hours to kill it. Bills like these point to one very large truth, though: the legislature cannot be trusted with our clean energy future. Thankfully, the 25% by 2025 ballot proposal allows the citizens of Michigan to take control of their own future and vote it directly into the Michigan Constitution. Rather than politicians like Rep. Franz telling you that you can’t have clean energy, this ballot proposal allows you to tell your politicians that you want clean energy and the manufacturing jobs that come with it.
When bills this dangerous and ridiculous are introduced, we will often ask readers like you to send a message to your congressman. We ask you to take action. In this case, though, the action needed is for you to do everything you can to get 25% by ‘25 on the November ballot, and to vote for it once it’s there.
Sign the petition when it comes your way. Contact us to find out how you can help gather petition signatures. Talk to your friends about this ballot proposal. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Donate to Michigan LCV to help us spread the word and keep on top of bills like these so that we can meet them with the swift response that killed this one. In fact, if you donate at least $15, we'll send you a pint glass proclaiming your love for the Great Lakes.
Only by taking our clean energy economy out of the hands of politicians and putting it into the hands of Michigan citizens can we be sure that bills like Rep. Franz’s never stall Michigan’s clean energy manufacturing future.