Today we hear from Nicholas Occhipinti, Policy and Community Activism Director at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, who discusses Proposal 3, the Renewable Energy Standard that will require 25% of Michigan’s energy to come from renewable sources by the year 2025.
Not only will the ballot initiative help the environment through the increased use of renewable energy, but it will have other benefits as well. Currently a majority, approximately 60%, of our electricity is derived from coal. 100% of Michigan’s coal is imported from other states, relying on the use of oil for transportation, with negative economic and environmental effects. Utility companies have recognized oil as the leading cause for increased electricity prices for consumers, and with the fluctuation of oil prices, there is no guarantee for the cost of energy. The Proposal 3 initiative states that utility companies cannot increase energy rates by more than 1% per year, and has an outlook for an approximate 50 cent increase in cost, once the proposal is passed. In addition to a savings in energy bills, the proposal has a Triple Botton Line Benefit which will create 94,000 jobs.
The switch from using a majority of coal, to utilizing more renewable energy sources, will give Michigan more health benefits in addition to economic positives. Coal has been linked to illnesses such as heart disease and asthma, leading to an increase in health care costs. The Michigan Nurses Association has named Proposal 3, “the most important health proposal in decades.”
Moving toward renewable energy sources will also be reliable, as there are a variety of sources: solar power, wind power, hydropower, and biomass. There is also a grid that identifies where energy is being produced greatest across the state. This allows us to utilize the most productive areas for the most energy. With only a small increase of 25%, there is no doubt that renewable sources are and will continue to be reliable to meet the demand. “It’s the best chance for environmental progress in the last few years and probably the next few years going forward,” said Occhipinti.
WMEAC is reaching out to Michigan citizens during the election to vote Yes on Proposal 3: Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs. We need volunteers at specific locations on Election Day as WMEAC representatives and supporters of Proposal 3. Other volunteers will take part in a mass telecommunications effort to encourage Proposal 3 supporters to get to the polls and vote Yes! Several shifts are available the day before the election and Election Day itself.
To learn more about volunteering for the “25×25” campaign, visit prop3volunteer.WMEAC.org.
To listen to this episode, click here.
The full interview can be found here.
“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life. Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.