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Renewable energy, the path to our future

By Nancy Davis

There were many ballot proposals this past election season. None of them passed. However, in regards to Proposal 3, support underlying the idea was not reflected by the vote. Many factors went into Proposal 3 not passing, but the major reason was the nearly $30 million dollars spent by the utilities (DTE, Consumers Energy and “CARE “) to defeat the proposal. Many Michiganders, however, do not agree with corporate money dictating our clean energy future.

Even though the proposal did not pass, our clean energy future still has great potential. Proposal 3 was swept by the “no change to our constitution” fever, but election day polling showed that three quarters of Michiganders favor expanded use of wind and solar. This past summer, the CEO of Consumers Energy, John Russell, stated that renewable energy is “clean and affordable” for Michigan. With the cost of renewable energy being significantly cheaper than generation from new coal plants, it is also the best bet for ratepayers. At least 90,000 new jobs can be created in Michigan by clean energy, according to a study by Michigan State University. All 8,000 parts of a wind turbine can be manufactured in Michigan.

Clean, renewable energy will not only create a stronger economy, but also lead to a cleaner, healthier environment for our children and grandchildren. Coal pollution is linked to diseases like asthma, heart disease, and cancer, causing 13,000 premature deaths yearly across the nation. Emissions from burning coal contain dangerous soot as well as some 300 toxins like arsenic, lead and mercury. Michigan spends $1.7 billion each year to import dirty, polluting coal, which contributes to unprecedented levels of asthma. To help children struggling to breathe, to reduce the health costs of chronic asthma, we must push for cleaner, renewable energy.

Michigan remains unwavering in its support for more renewable energy for our state. Thirty other states have higher renewable energy standards than Michigan, and are reaping new jobs, cleaner air and water, and affordable rates. DTE and Consumers Energy say they support expanding renewable energy, just not through a ballot initiative. We say to them that Michigan stands ready to do it. We cannot afford to wait any longer.

Nancy Davis, B. S.; B.M.; M.M.; B.F.A., is a former member of the Orchard Lake City Council Planning Commission and Environmental Committee.

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