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.