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Michigan Rejects Increase to Renewable Energy Requirement

Voters in Michigan rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise to 25 percent the amount of electricity state utilities must get from renewable sources by 2020.

The proposal lost by a margin of almost two-to-one, according to unofficial results on the Michigan government’s website.

The results show that voters think Michigan utilities are balancing the demands of adopting renewable energy while keeping rates down, according to Howard Edelson, campaign manager for Clean Affordable Renewable Energy for Michigan Coalition, a group that opposes the initiative.

“The state’s constitution is not the place for costly energy policy,” he said in a statement after the election yesterday.

The initiative would have required that at least a quarter of the power sold to retail customers be produced from wind, solar, biomass or hydropower, up from a 2008 law requiring 10 percent by 2015. Utilities would have been permitted to raise electricity rates by no more than 1 percent to meet the higher renewable-energy mandate.

Opponents of the initiative spent more than $35 million to block the proposal, outspending supporters by more than three-to-one, Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based non-profit, said today in a statement.

“Coal-dependent utilities and fossil fuel interests threw everything they had into distorting the facts, including an astounding amount of money and resources,” said Knobloch.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have renewable-portfolio standards. The highest targets are in California, which requires 33 percent by 2020, and Hawaii, with 40 percent by 2030, according to data compiled by North Carolina State University.

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