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A Michigan group is preparing to meet a July 9 deadline to obtain enough signatures to support a ballot proposal that would raise the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 25% by 2025. Michigan's current standard is 10% by 2015.

According to Mark Fisk, campaign manager for Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs, the group is proposing to amend Section 55, Michigan’s Clean Renewable Electric Energy Standard, in the state constitution.

Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs is a bipartisan coalition of local businesses, labor organizations, healthcare advocates and other groups. Fisk says increasing the state’s use of renewable energy will create thousands of jobs for Michigan workers and attract $10 billion in new investments to the state. Recently, the group announced that more than 120 Michigan business leaders have endorsed their proposal to increase the state RPS.

Fisk says the group has collected nearly 500,000 signatures on a petition - well ahead of the 332,000 voter signatures needed to bring the amendment to a vote on the Nov. 6 election ballot.

However, Michigan utilities, such as DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, oppose the RPS increase.

"We oppose the ballot proposal," says Alejandro Bodipo-Memba, spokesperson for DTE Energy. "The 2008 law is working and we are well under way to reaching our goal."

According to market research from SNL Energy, Michigan is on pace to meet the 10% by 2015 mandate. Currently, Michigan is at 7.2% renewables penetration.

Bodipo-Memba says DTE Energy and Consumers Energy will have more than 500 wind turbines in operation by 2015.

"We are a supporter of wind energy, but we want to make certain it evolves in a logical and prudent way," he says. "We think that 25 percent by 2025 is pretty arbitrary."

Not only do the utilities oppose the increase, but they also question the wisdom of amending the state's constitution to do it.

"We don't think the state constitution is the right place for energy policy to be debated," says Bodipo-Memba.

Should the ballot proposal be successful, Bodipo-Memba says Michigan would be the first state where an RPS was changed via a constitutional amendment. He says such an action would create a dangerous precedent and "probably not be the kind of first the state wants."

This week, a coalition, including DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, launched a rival campaign called CARE (short for Clean, Affordable Renewable Energy) to defeat the proposed RPS increase.

The campaign includes a website, careformich.com,  that is designed to educate and influence voters and politicians, says Megan Brown, CARE spokesperson. Like Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs, CARE says it has bipartisan support and backing from labor groups and organizations.


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