Michigan approves energy standard ballot language

Ballot language that could increase Michigan's renewable energy standard to 25% by 2025 has been approved by Michigan's Board of State Canvassers, HydroWorld.com has learned.

The proposal, which might appear on ballots as early as November 6, would require the state's electric utilities to provide at least a quarter of their annual retail sales from renewable energy sources -- including hydropower -- by 2025.

If passed, the initiative would amend Article IV of the Michigan Constitution with an addition called Section 55, or, informally, the "25 by 2025" plan.

Michigan currently has no output capacity limit for what it considers "renewable" hydropower, though the state does not define pumped-storage facilities as renewable energy systems.

Michigan also excludes hydropower facilities that use dams constructed after the effective date of the state's Public Act 295 of 2008, unless that dam is a repair, replacement or upgrade of a dam already in existence at the time of the act's passage.

Utilities would also be prohibited from increasing consumer charges more than 1% per year to achieve compliance with the 2025 renewable energy standard, although annual extensions of the deadline could be granted to prevent rate increases from exceeding that limit.

The plan is designed to develop the state's renewable sources in a "manner that fosters a diversity of energy generation technologies".

A study conducted by Michigan State University indicates the renewable energy standard could create at least 74,000 jobs in the wind, solar, biomass and hydropower industries.

Should Michigan adopt the initiative, it would join more than 30 states that have already passed similar legislation.

HydroWorld.com reported earlier this month that Massachusetts has also adopted measures that would benefit hydroelectric development.

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