Ballot box battle over clean energy is brewing in three states

Solar in AZ by Advanced Racking

Solar in AZ by Advanced Racking

Clean energy advocates have their eyes on three states — Michigan, Nevada, and Arizona — where they hope to strengthen renewable energy policies by getting voters to pass citizen-led ballot initiatives. As with previous battles at the ballot box over clean energy, the campaigners are expecting electric utilities and Koch-funded groups to fight against these attempts to give wind and solar energy a greater foothold in a state’s energy portfolio.

Despite the millions of dollars that industry groups will spend to defeat these measures, their supporters contend voters will be inclined to support greater use of renewables because of the dramatic decline in their cost. In parts of the western United States, building new wind, solar, and energy storage facilities has become cheaper than a new natural gas-fired plant.

“Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are much cheaper than they were in 2010 or 2012,” Dylan Sullivan, senior scientist in the climate and energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “We’ve always won on the health and future generations arguments. But now we can really win on the cost and jobs argument.”

Electric utilities and dark money groups have traditionally spent huge sums fending off such attempts to expand renewables. For 2018, though, billionaire Tom Steyer, through his NextGen America group, is backing measures that would strengthen state-mandated renewable energy requirements.

In Michigan, a NextGen America-backed ballot initiative called “Clean Energy, Healthy Michigan” is pushing for a 30-percent renewable energy mandate by 2030, up from the current requirement of 15 percent by 2021. The initiative defines renewable energy as solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower.

The group intends to use a combination of paid and volunteer staff to collect at least 252,523 valid signatures to put... Read the rest of the story on HERE