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Michigan utilities would boost renewable-energy use if ballot proposal becomes law

Wind turbine
Tim Wang
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flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
Wind and solar advocates want Michigan's utility companies to get 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2030. They hope to get the proposal on the 2018 statewide ballot.

A group of environmentalists wants Michigan's utility companies to use 30 percent renewable energy by 2030. The wind and solar advocates have started a campaign to get their proposal on the 2018 statewide ballot. 

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has been following the story. She joined "Morning Edition" host Doug Tribou to discuss the ballot initiative and its chances of becoming law. 

John Freeman is leading the campaign. He says utility companies aren't taking advantage of the cheapest power sources available: solar and wind.

"Everybody will save money," he said. "Plus, we get the added benefit of having much cleaner air because solar and wind don't produce any pollution."

A similar campaign was defeated in 2012. Michigan's two largest energy companies, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, spent more than $20 million fighting that initiative. 

Under current state law, companies will be required to go to 15 percent renewable energy sources by 2022.

DTE Energy CEO Gerry Anderson opposes the new measure.

He told Michigan Radio, "Complex public policy should be undertaken by ballot initiative as a last resort."

Freeman says the campaign expects to begin collecting signatures today. 

Editor's note: Consumers Energy is a corporate sponsor of Michigan Radio. 

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