To the editor:
I am writing on behalf of Ontonagon county REA, one of 11 not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives in Michigan, all of which support renewable energy, but stand united against Proposal 3.
This ballot proposal would amend the Michigan Constitution to include a 25-percent Renewable Portfolio Standard, which would be very expensive and extreme.
Michigan's electric co-ops have been leaders in renewable energy, and support the current 10 percent RPS set by the legislature in 2008. Co-ops are key partners in Michigan's first commercial wind farm, and one of our state's largest renewable energy resources, a hydro facility in Sault Ste. Marie, is owned by an electric co-op.
We believe renewable energy has a place in our power supply toolbox, but its limitations make it less than ideal. Wind farms in the state typically only generate 30 percent of the time - and this "reliability" is often lower on the hot, still days when electricity demand is highest. By comparison, wind farms in Texas and parts of the upper Midwest often operate at levels exceeding 40 percent.
Wind power in Michigan is also very expensive. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy reported it would cost the average residential rate-payer an additional $170 to $190 annually to achieve the 25 percent RPS suggested by Proposal 3. This cost estimate does not even include the additional costs of building new transmission lines or generation needed to "back up" the wind when it does not blow. Solar power is even more expensive and better suited for other regions of the United States.
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Finally, we strongly believe that the Michigan legislature, not the constitution, is the place to enact far-reaching energy policy. While the legislature's work can be "fine tuned" to allow for changes in technology, the economy or unintended consequences, these types of necessary adjustments would be nearly impossible to achieve if enshrined in the Michigan Constitution.
While we support the use and development of renewable energy, we believe Proposal 3 would be harmful to the 4,900 homes and businesses served by Ontonagon County REA. Please vote "no" on Proposal 3.
Ontonagon County REA