Proposal 3: Wind Companies Ready to Create Jobs in Michigan

October 12, 2012 | 5:09 pm
John Rogers
Energy Campaign Analytic Lead

Dozens of wind energy manufacturers, developers, and suppliers are encouraging Michiganders to vote ‘Yes’ on Proposal 3 as a way to strengthen the state’s renewable energy standard and economy. And that’s just the tip of the job-creating iceberg.

This is part of a series on Proposal 3: The Michigan Renewable Energy Ballot Initiative.

In a letter released last week by the American Wind Energy Association, more than 30 wind energy companies made clear that they see Michigan as a place that is “rich in untapped renewable energy resources that could provide at least enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity” to meet Prop 3’s 25% standard.

Go Blue! Dana Building, U. of Michigan (Source: School of Natural Resources,

And those companies see jobs for Michigan in those resources:

If voters like you pass the 25% by 2025 standard, clean energy projects will be built in Michigan and communities will see jobs and economic benefits at every stage of those projects: from the hundreds of in-state construction jobs created to build new wind and solar projects, to new orders at Michigan manufacturing facilities, to the on-site operations jobs, property tax revenues for local governments and lease payments to landowners that will last the lifetime of the project. (emphasis added)

Applying Michigan’s incredible manufacturing capacity and history of innovation to the clean energy sector just makes sense. And, as the yes-on-prop-3 website says, “Michigan’s manufacturing sector is underutilized, with clean energy companies up and running but with plenty of room to grow.”

And the idea of tapping into that power is consistent with what’s been happening across the country. Wind accounted for nearly a third of all new electricity capacity in 2011, and U.S. companies have been earning a larger and larger chunk of wind’s growing market share. According to the Department of Energy’s latest report on the state of the wind technologies market, the Made-in-America piece of U.S. projects is up from 35% in 2005/06 to 67% in 2011.

Domestic content is climbing

“Made in USA” is growing. How about “Made in Michigan”?

With its current 10%-by-2015 renewable electricity standard, Michigan is already competing for clean energy jobs. Solar and wind already provide more than 10,000 jobs in Michigan.

Prop 3 offers the opportunity for Michiganders to build on that, big-time, by planning for their state’s long-term clean energy future—something big utilities and politicians haven’t done nearly enough of. Achieving Prop 3’s goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025 could help keep as much as $2 billion of ratepayers hard earned energy dollars from leaving the state to pay for imported coal. That money could then be used to support homegrown renewable energy projects that benefit local communities.

The big picture

The wind industry wants to help with that build-up in the Wolverine state. “Our companies and others are anxious to get new projects up and running in Michigan,” the letter-signing companies say.

Wind companies are clearly not disinterested parties when it comes to policies that would move us away from fossil fuels and toward more clean energy. Nor should they be.

It should be equally clear that you and I and all the good people of Michigan aren’t disinterested parties, either. When dirty coal gets replaced with clean forms of electricity, in Michigan and elsewhere, people win with cleaner air, more money staying in state, and more stable electricity prices. When Michiganders drive their economy forward with investments in local renewable energy, that means jobs, revenues, and economic development in the state. When we say “yes” to taking charge of our electricity future at every opportunity, we all win.

Prop 3 is Michigan’s chance to say “yes” to all of that. Bring in the companies. Bring on the jobs.