Michigan voters soundly reject renewables mandate

Michigan voters rejected, by a nearly 2-1 margin, an amendment to the state constitution that would have mandated a large increase in renewable energy generation.

The so-called “25 by 25” Proposal 3 would have mandated Michigan’s retail electricity sales from renewable resources like wind, solar and biomass to reach 25% by 2025. According to unofficial results posted on the Michigan Secretary of State’s website on Nov. 7, the proposal was rejected by a vote of 2,289,166 to 1,220,702, or a 65% to 35% margin.

“Voters clearly recognized that the state’s constitution is not the place for costly energy policy,” Howard Edelson, campaign manager for the Clean Affordable Renewable Energy (CARE) for Michigan Coalition, said in a statement. “The overwhelming rejection of Proposal 3 is an endorsement that the state’s existing energy policy is working.”

Michigan law currently mandates a 10% renewable energy standard by 2015. The state’s utilities, DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE), CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS) and Wolverine Electric, said they are well on their way to meeting the standard and an additional mandates would impose undue and costly burdens on consumers and businesses.

The proposal was spearheaded by the Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs coalition, which said the proposal would create thousands of jobs in renewable energy in the state and encourage $10bn in investment. The proposal also would have capped rate increases at 1%, though opponents disputed that.

“Big energy has a stranglehold on the legislature, so it would’ve been difficult there,” coalition spokesman Mark Fisk said. He added that renewable energy barely existed as an issue before, but this effort has laid the foundation for discussions in front of the media, legislators and utility regulators for bringing clean energy and jobs to the forefront in Michigan.

Environmentalists and national groups like the League of Conservation Voters and the American Wind Energy Association supported the measure.

No other state has renewable energy mandates in state constitutions as proponents have relied on legislatures and public service commissions to enact or enforce standards.