LANSING, Mich. (WZMQ) – House Democrats have introduced new legislation surrounding zoning for larger solar and wind farms. With large plots of land needed for renewable energy plants, Republicans are expressing concerns about the bills taking the deciding power away from local municipalities.
With Democrats setting a goal of 60% renewable energy by 2030 in Michigan’s Healthy Climate Plan, the challenge now is to create the legislation that will help build the infrastructure needed to hit that goal. State Representative Jenn Hill from the 109th district explained that Michigan is in the middle of a big energy transition. She says Democrats want to make sure that the state has enough energy, and that it goes in places that make sense.
The package includes House Bills 5120 through 5123, it’s called the Clean Energy and Jobs Act. Proponents of the bill say it follows the same process the Michigan Public Service Commission uses to cite existing oil or gas pipelines and high-voltage transmission lines.
Representative Dave Prestin from the 108th House District says the solar and wind projects coming following these bills will be going to go to primarily rural sites and farmland, and that they’re running into opposition with the locals.
Representative Hill says that the bills deal only with solar and wind farms that take up over 5,000 acres and generate over 50 megawatts of energy, projects of smaller sizes will still be under the control of local cities, villages, and townships.
But Representative Prestin said he’s worried the legislation will still be used to override the will of the people in rural communities.
“They say things like ‘they’ll be town halls and people will have a say’.” Representative Prestin said. “The bottom line is they won’t have the ability to say no.”
The criticisms don’t stop on the republican side, representative Hill says she has a lot of concerns about the bill as well.
“They do not specify what public benefits need to be provided back in return for having this level of infrastructure put into your community.” Representative Hill aid. “Those very important issues need to be addressed as we go forward with these bills, otherwise I’m not going to support them.”
The Clean Energy and Jobs Act has only just been introduced to the House Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee. U.P. legislators say there’s a lot of work to be done before it can be voted on in the House and sent to the Senate for more revisions.