Investigative
7:00 am
Thu October 4, 2012

Truth Squad on Prop 3 ads: Technical Fouls for '25 by '25'

Five proposed amendments to the state Constitution and one other referendum will appear on the ballot on election day. Political commercials are on your TV making arguments for and against many of the proposals.  Michigan Watch teamed up with the Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad to look at the ads for and against Proposal 3.

Proposal 3 would amend the state Constitution to establish a new standard for renewable energy use.  Renewable energy is electricity generated by sources such as wind, solar, biomass and hydropower. The current standard in Michigan law requires ten percent renewable energy by 2015. This proposal would increase that to 25% renewable energy by 2025. Proposal 3 is often called “25 by 25.”

The proposal would also limit electric utility rate increases to one percent per year.

John Bebow is with the Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad. His team has been reviewing the ads.

“This campaign on the airwaves is all about hope and fear. And what we find in the ad claims here is a little too much hope and a little too much fear.”

The first ad we’ll look at is from Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs which calls for a ‘yes’ vote on Proposal 3.

“They have an ad out right now that accurately talks about how much we spend importing coal from other states and that 60 percent of our electricity comes from imported coal. Those claims are accurate as it turns out. But, where we ran into a problem with the pro-side on this is the issue of hope and the issue of jobs,” Bebow said

AD: “Proposal 3 will create 94 thousand jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

Bebow says,“There’s one word missing there. The study actually says ‘job years’ not ‘jobs.’ So, think of it this way: Governor Granholm had two terms, eight years, one job, but she had eight ‘job years.’ That’s the problem here.”

On the other side, energy companies and others have created a ‘vote no on Proposal 3’ group called Clean Affordable Renewable Energy for Michigan Coalition, or sometimes just called CARE for Michigan. Bebow’s Truth Squad team found the coalition says it will cost up to $12 billion to meet the standard.

"... saying that it will be very costly, that it’s unnecessary, that we’re moving as much as market forces allow toward a renewable energy standard. We found a lot of factual information in some of their claims, but we also saw that just like the ‘pro’ side over-hyped the hope a little bit, we think the ‘anti’ side over-hyped the fear just a little bit.”

AD: “It works out to thousands of dollars in higher electric bills for Michigan families and small businesses.”

Bebow responded,“The ad provides no material to back up that claim, that pocketbook claim. That campaign has not yet outlined exactly how they do the arithmetic that leads you to believe that you and I and everybody else will be paying thousands of dollars more in electrical bills if this standard passes.”

The Truth Squad gave ‘Technical Fouls’ to each side for their ads. The reviews found both had made statements that needed to be explained more fully.