MARQUETTE, Mich. (WZMQ) – A recently passed energy package has divided U.P. legislators. State lawmakers held a town hall in Marquette Thursday night to hear from constituents.
Marquette Township Hall was filled tonight as republicans, Senator Ed Mcbroom, Representative Greg Markkanen, and Representative Dave Prestin discussed the newly passed energy legislation.
A number of residents expressed concern that the bills will take zoning authority for renewable energy projects away from local governments, and give it solely to the Michigan Public Service Commission.
“This is incentivising private property owners, to jump this ship and potentially surround their neighbors homes, take their farmland from the people they have been leasing from, cut down trees, whatever it takes so they can have this large continuous acreage, and get this very generous benefit to put up solar panels on their property,” remarked State Senator Ed Mcbroom.
According to Senator Mcbroom as of now farmers in the U.P. pay around $20-$50 per year to lease an acre of land. He expects land owners could be offered up to $1,800 a month per acre to lease land for clean energy projects.
“It is going to change the whole landscape of our communities in Michigan, agriculture is the number 2 industry in michigan we are feeding people, millions of people,” added Mcbroom.
The republican legislators say they’re also concerned the energy legislation will shut down 13 reciprocating internal combustion engines– or “RICE” generators in the U.P. which were installed in 2019 after the Presque Isle Power Plant was removed.
Representative Preston says carbon emissions have decreased 86% since then, and that the legislation doesn’t take that into account. He says the bills could require the $600-million generators to close early to meet the new emissions standards.
“You are going to be looking at several millions of dollars of payments that need to be recouped if those rice burners go down before the expected date of 2049,” remarked Representative Prestin
The package has cleared through both chambers of the state legislature. It will now go to Governor Whitmers desk where she is expected to sign it into law.