12 BILLION DOLLARS! The biggest attack these days on Michigan’s 25% by 2025 Renewable Energy Standard, a.k.a. Proposal 3, is the supposed cost which will supposedly fall on the customers. I too, a user of electricity and payer of utility bills, am concerned about costs, but how much will Prop 3 really cost to implement, and how much of that cost will fall on consumers?
Now, accounting for electricity supply and demand, cost fluctuations of fuel supplies and inflation is enough to make anyone’s head spin, so let’s keep things simple and focused on the biggest drivers of cost. For coal, where we get two-thirds of our electricity from, and other fossil fuels, the fuels cost money.
Fact #1: Out of every dollar Michigan spends on energy, 72 cents goes out of state to import coal, petroleum, natural gas and nuclear fuel.
For renewables like wind and solar, there is no fuel cost, since it’s free from mother nature. That means overall costs are more predictable and more stable. Moreover, the money spent on fossil fuels mostly goes out of the state, weakening our local economy. With renewables, we keep the money in the state so we can grow our economy at home. Most of the new renewable projects in the Mitten are wind, because Michigan has enough wind resources to power our entire state 3 times over!
Another major driver of cost is constructing the power plant or generating devices, like wind turbines. Since wind installations from the previous RES of 10% have been chugging along, we already have good data about the costs of wind compared to conventional coal and even costs of carbon capture & sequestration coal plants (CCS coal), which is a fairer comparison being that wind has zero emissions. The results are in, and wind is the winner. The Michigan Public Service Commision reports:
- “With the renewable energy and energy optimization programs just ramping up, no impacts on price have been quantified at this point.”
- “Throughout the MISO footprint, increased growth in wind has acted to displace relatively high cost generation, resulting in lower cost base-load plants more frequently setting the margin.”
Fact #2: Since mid-2010, all new renewable energy projects have been cheaper than building a new coal plant.
So, not only will we be saving money on fuel costs, Michigan residents will be saving on costs of new installations. And at the same time, more renewable energy allows the rest of our power to come from cheaper base-load plants, like newer and cleaner natural gas plants, to provide juice at peak times. All of this adds up to lower costs for residents, not higher.
Finally, for the ultimate skeptics out there who just aren’t feeling the breeze, Proposal 3 even includes a 1% limit, a safety cap, that stops electric bill costs from rising more than 1% a year from the additional investment in renewables.
Fact #3: Prop 3 has a 1% cap on electricity bill costs.
That means at the MOST, you might see a rise in the electric bill by about $1.25 a month on average. But so far, the data shows you probably won’t be paying any more than you do now on utilities, not to mention having lower healthcare bills from healthier lungs and reduced risks of asthma. And a stronger economy by keeping money and jobs in-state, while adding an estimated 94,000 new jobs directly from this proposal.
Oh, did I forget about lower carbon emissions and therefore a stabler climate? I’d like to hear from you if you have you’re own ideas about renewable energy and Prop 3. On Twitter, post why you’re supporting Prop 3 and include @AnnArbor350 and #mi25x25 or on our Facebook page – Ann Arbor 350.