Coal Front Group Helps Back $6 Million Campaign Against Higher Renewable Energy Standard

Coal and utilities groups launched a deep-pocketed campaign last month to defeat a November ballot initiative that would raise Michigan’s renewable energy standard for utilities to 25 percent.

The coalition — Clean Affordable Renewable Energy (CARE) for Michigan — has the backing of utilities companies DTE and Consumers Energy, the Detroit and Michigan Chambers of Commerce. Campaign filings show that a coal front group, American Coalition for Clean Coal, is also supporting the campaign against increased renewable energy for the state.

The industry-led group has raised nearly $6 million in its first few months, primarily from the state’s largest utilities companies. By comparison, proponents of the renewable energy standard have raised $2.2 million. MLive provides the details:

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy contributed most of the money. Each gave more than $2.9 million, either directly or through a parent company or subsidiary. DTE also made nearly $200,000 in in-kind contributions and Consumers gave $81,000 in in-kind contributions.

DTE and Consumers both used shareholder dollars to fund the campaign.

Twelve other individuals and companies made donations, including $25,000 from Southfield-based builder Barton Malow and $20,000 from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity in Washington, D.C., according to a campaign finance report filed today.

This campaign is only the tip of the iceberg of what fossil fuel interests are spending this election cycle. ACCCE has a broad $40 million ad campaign this year, spending on ads like ones in May that accuse the Environmental Protection Agency of attempting to raise electricity prices.

Economically, the Michigan initiative makes sense — the costs are much lower than anyone, even utilties, expected and the benefits abound. But the CARE campaign, helped along by none other than big coal, are looking to distort the broad, bipartisan support for renewables.

One Response to Coal Front Group Helps Back $6 Million Campaign Against Higher Renewable Energy Standard

  1. Frank Zaski says:

    Here is research which suggest this is not providing for customers as the utilities state:

    People and Michigan small business want more renewable energy:
    76% of Americans agree that the United States should move to a “sustainable energy future by 2050 through a reduction in our reliance on nuclear power, natural gas and coal, and instead, launch a national initiative to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency.” This includes support from 58% of Republicans, 83% of independents, and 88% of Democrats

    63% support requiring utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it costs the average household $100 extra per year. (3/2012)

    79% of Michigan small business owners support setting standards that require utilities to meet a certain percentage of energy demand through renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-fuels (e.g. requiring a 25% target in renewable fuels by 2025). Only 10% strongly opposed this activity.

    Renewable energy will actually lower electric bills
    Wind power will actually lower wholesale power prices,.. making substantial investments in wind power (and the necessary transmission lines to bring that wind to market) could save the average Midwestern residential consumer as much as $200 per year in 2020

    “Renewable resources, in particular wind, have played a dramatic role in reducing electric energy prices in Illinois and the entire Eastern Interconnection,

    Iowa’s Mid-American Energy Company is the largest utility owner of wind generation in the U.S. and it hasn’t raised electric rates since 1995. Wind accounted for 25% of the Iowa’s net electric generation in May, 2011 and 21% YTD. Since 2006, wind’s share of Iowa’s net generation increased from 5% to 21%. Yet Iowa’s electric rates increased only 4% during this time. In contrast, U.S. rates increased 9%.

    Minnesota … many utility companies, including Xcel Energy, the state’s largest provider, have seen rates decrease as a result of the RPS.