opinion: Positive outcomes of Proposal 3 outweigh any negative attention it receives
Nov. 6 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting elections in recent memory, particularly for Michigan voters. A "Yes" vote on Proposal 3, which will require utility companies by 2025 to derive 25 percent of their retail sales of energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, will result in a tremendous win for businesses and all citizens of "Pure Michigan."
As a 25-year veteran of the transportation industry, employed as a manager for Metro Delivery, a same-day delivery company of 60 employees operating in Southeast Michigan, I've had unique opportunities to travel all over our beautiful state. I've talked with thousands of Michigan residents from all walks of life, from patients receiving home health care, receptionists and warehouse workers, all the way up to CEOS and business leaders in any industry you can imagine. We share these issues: we recognize Michigan desperately needs to find new ways to generate jobs and revenue with the changing times, and we have an appreciation and concern for the precious nature of our waterways and lakes.
Both issues are imperiled by the sustained assault wrought by our outmoded energy choices. Michigan sends $1.7 billion out of our state annually to import coal, which furnishes 60 percent of our current energy. And our coal plants belch out so many toxins that pretty much every fish from inland lakes and streams is so contaminated with deadly mercury and other impurities that you can't eat them more than once a month, and cancer-causing chemicals fill our air.
Instead of spending that $1.7 billion per year out of state, we could retain some of that money to build new jobs in renewable energy. According to an MSU study, as many as 94,000 Michigan jobs could be created, manufacturing, maintaining and operating the equipment. And jobs in tourism can only benefit if our lakes and rivers aren't polluted to the point where nobody wants to fish and swim in them.
Opponents of Proposition 3 pretend to argue the technology doesn't exist to convert to renewable sources, an argument which my grandmother, a lifelong Michigan resident like most of my immediate family for the last 150 years, would have characterized as "horsefeathers." Germany, with similar wind and solar potential to Michigan, is operating at 25 percent renewable right now, this year.
There's little argument that continuing to make the dirty choice results in greater profits for utility companies, so it's easy to understand the well-funded ads that you'll see opposing the measure. But Proposition 3 also includes language that forbids those utility companies from charging consumers more than 1 percent annually to make this necessary transition, so the average household could see an increase of only around $1.25 per month.
Forward-thinking businesspersons like myself understand the costs of shortsighted profits over long-range returns. Voting "Yes!" on Proposal 3 is the smart thing to do for business in Michigan, and the right thing to do for future generations.
Business Development Manager, Metro Delivery