The Most Important Renewable Energy Vote This Year


The most important clean energy vote this year will not take place in Congress. David Roberts of Grist has it right. It will take place in Michigan.

In November, voters will have the chance to approve a ballot initiative increasing the state’s renewable standard to 25% by 2025.

Why is this such a critical fight, and relevant for all Americans?

First, it’s one of the few opportunities to make actual progress in fighting climate change. Where else are wins going to come from? International climate treaties? Congress riding to the rescue? That’s about as likely as our polar icecaps melting. Oh, wait…

Secondly, a good win here can have a civilizing effect on the national dialogue. Over the past year, renewable energy has been politicized to an extent never before seen. In Michigan, renewables have bi-partisan support. Saul Anuzis, former chair of the Michigan GOP, wrote an extraordinary letter of support, making the conservative case for the cause (it’s a must-read). A good showing will help demonstrate that polarization is bad politics.

Finally, success begets success, and this can help pave the way for wins elsewhere. Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Americans want to see a transition to renewable energy. Indeed, a good clean energy ballot initiative has never lost — voters in Colorado, Washington, and Missiouri all passed state renewable standards, despite being outspent by opponents. When the people lead, politicians will eventually follow.

So what can you do? Get involved in the campaign. The state’s utilities are pulling out all the stops, and putting big money into fighting it. We need people power to counter. Volunteer. Ask Michigan businesses to stand up and endorse the measure. Get your elected officials to do the same. Follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook, and take action when there’s an opportunity. Get your friends involved. Write some letters. Make some noise. Make a contribution, however you can.

The fight has begun. We gotta win this one.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.


About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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