Bills would streamline siting, set higher targets for renewable energy and energy storage
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2023
Contact: Stephanie Cepak, Byrum & Fisk Advocacy Communications, email@example.com
Lansing, MI – Advanced energy industry groups, including the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), American Clean Power Association (ACP), Advanced Energy United (United), and Clean Grid Alliance (CGA) today applauded the introduction of legislation to streamline and improve the siting of wind, solar, and energy storage projects. The trade organizations, which collectively represent hundreds of businesses in the clean power industry, urged the legislature to pass this legislation, HB 5120 - HB 5123, along with other key clean energy bills to set a 100% carbon-free energy standard by 2040, enact an energy storage target, increase energy waste reduction, and improve customer access to rooftop and community solar.
Governor Whitmer's MI Healthy Climate Plan provided a roadmap for the state to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, calling for a shift to renewable and carbon-free energy generation. Legislation introduced in the Michigan Senate (SB 271) would set a renewable portfolio standard of 60% by 2032, on the path to 100% carbon-free power by 2040 for Michigan's electric utilities. Unfortunately, outside opposition groups are increasingly putting themselves between Michigan and its clean energy goals, using fear tactics and misinformation to block renewable energy projects at the local level.
"There is a surge of investment that is transforming our energy system into one that is cleaner, safer and more reliable and creating thousands of new jobs along the way," said Erika Kowall, Director for Midwestern State Affairs at ACP. "Michigan is taking a meaningful step to help counter project delays and ensuring that a clean energy future will unlock economic investment and jobs across the state while protecting the environment."
The legislation introduced today would allow decisions regarding large utility-scale wind, solar, and energy storage projects (greater than 50 or 100 megawatts in capacity) to be made by experts at the Michigan Public Service Commission. Decisions regarding smaller projects would remain in the purview of local officials. This hybrid approach balances local control of smaller projects with the statewide need for large energy generation projects and has been successfully utilized in Wisconsin, Minnesota and other midwestern states.
"The proposed legislation is essential to build the foundation for increased renewable energy generation in Michigan included in Governor Whitmer's bold MI Healthy Climate Plan." said Peder Mewis, Regional Policy Director with CGA. "Wisconsin and Minnesota have a similar hybrid approach that has been very successful while maintaining a local control balance for smaller projects. The streamlined siting process proposed would remove a significant hurdle to renewable energy growth. Increased efficiency for renewable energy development will help deliver an economic and environmental boost to Michigan."
The legislation also requires projects to follow strict labor, environmental, and community engagement standards – ensuring maximum benefits to local communities and codifying best practices.
"Large-scale renewable projects don't just provide clean power, they also provide local tax revenue that goes to schools and infrastructure while creating good-paying local jobs throughout their construction, operation, and maintenance," said Trish Demeter, Managing Director with Advanced Energy United. "Across Michigan, communities have already seen immense benefits from renewable projects."
In addition to siting reform, achieving 100% carbon-free energy by 2040 will require the state to ensure reliability across the electricity grid by also requiring build-out of cost-effective energy storage projects. It's also important that lawmakers ensure that the renewable energy and energy storage projects are cost-effective by requiring fair market competition (as required in HB 4759 and HB 4256).
"It is imperative that the legislature continues to work on policies like these that help enable the buildout of renewable generation," said Dr. Laura Sherman, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. "Requiring implementation of grid-scale energy storage and ensuring 50% independent ownership of renewable projects will increase grid reliability, lower project costs, and create a more efficient system."
Finally, it is critical that the state empowers Michiganders to support the utilities in this transition by allowing all Michiganders access to rooftop solar by lifting the arbitrary cap on rooftop solar (as in SB 362/SB 363) and enabling community solar (as in SB 152/SB 153 and HB 4464 and HB 4465).
The clean energy industry urges the Michigan Legislature to move expeditiously to pass clean energy legislation this fall including each of these important components to ensure a successful transition to clean energy.