The Coalition for Affordable Renewable Energy, a group that opposed the ballot proposal, got separate $11 million donations from both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, a pair of energy companies with coal-fired power plants.
AFP, the conservative super-PAC backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, threw in another $1.5 million, according to public documents.
The power companies opposing the measure also had the support of a number of Michigan Republicans, including Gov. Rick Snyder (R). They said putting the renewable requirement in the constitution would have raised power rates by forcing utilities to buy pricier solar and wind energy.
Green groups including the NRDC Action Fund and the Sierra Club supported the measure, calling it a way to boost jobs in renewable energy sector while curbing pollution. They disputed claims that it would raise costs for consumers.
More state-based battles over green energy may be in the offing.
The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) plans to launch a campaign aimed at repealing state-based laws requiring utilities to purchase renewable electricity.
The corporate-backed group of state lawmakers has drafted template legislation called the “Electricity Freedom Act”, which it hopes to push in some of the 30 states that have renewable electricity standards.