October 21, 2014

Au Gres joins coalition against Prop. 3

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com

Posted
124 W. Huron
Au Gres, MI 48703
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Au GRES — The Au Gres city council expressed their concerns with Proposal 3, the 25x25 statewide proposal set to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, during its meeting Oct. 2.

The city council agreed to sign up for membership in the CARE for Michigan Coalition, a group organized to defeat ballot proposal 3, which would change the state constitution to require 25 percent of the state’s energy production to move to renewable sources by 2025.

Consumers Energy Public Affairs Area Manager Jeff Mayes was at the meeting to explain the electrical utility’s opposition to the measure.

“With the current technology we’d need to use windmills,” Mayes said. “We’d need to install a windmill every half mile along the I-75 corridor from Toledo to Sault Ste. Marie, or along the coastline of the state.”

According to the CARE coalition, meeting the 25-percent requirement with just wind power would require an estimated 3,100 windmills. Mayes said installation of the windmills would cost about $1 million with an expected lifespan of 30 years.

Additionally, he said the 2008 Michigan Renewable Energy Standard law is still in effect, which requires 10 percent of all of Michigan’s energy production to move to renewable sources by 2015. Mayes said the state is on track to meet that goal and should worry about completing that goal before moving on to another.

“Ideally we would wait until 2015 to evaluate our current goal before setting a new one,” Mayes said.

He said so far Consumers Energy has spent roughly $15 million on reaching the 10-percent goal, and Detroit Edison has spent $1.5 billion on the same.

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), proponents of the 25x25 proposal, said similar energy goals exist in 20 other states, and those states have not seen electricity rates increase. Additionally, the effort could bring billions of investment dollars to the state. Furthermore, the MEC released the results of a study that indicates utility costs would not increase a significant amount in the short term — roughly 50 cents per month — and the measure would stabilize rates long term as Michigan becomes less reliant on oil and coal costs.

According to the MEC, roughly 60 percent of Michigan’s electricity currently comes from coal, and roughly $1.5 billion in costs and damages to Michigan residents stem from its usage and pollution.

Coal usage is already being reduced, Mayes said, due to a drop in demand and a drop in the price of natural gas making coal less competitive as a source of electricity generation. Some coal plants are being retrofitted to handle natural gas, while other, older plants are being shut down as they reach the end of their lifespans.

Mayor LaVern Dittenber asked about the possibility of using cleaner-burning coal methods, but Mayes said it would create a great deal of ash and sulfuric acid, as cleaner coal methods involve burning wood products. Adding systems to clean out the ash and acid would raise the cost of the plants further, Mayes said.

“We are not pursuing coal at this time,” Mayes said. “There’s just not the demand for electricity.”

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