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Committee passes legislation to let state seize control of local energy siting

More than 1,700 county Farm Bureau members and supporters from across the state have sent more than 3,400 messages to state legislators in the past week, voicing opposition to legislation to transfer local zoning decisions for commercial wind and solar projects to the Michigan Public Service Commission. Image credit: Amazon
Date Posted: October 18, 2023

The House Energy, Communications and Technology Committee on Wednesday passed legislation that would take away local siting control for commercial wind, solar and energy storage projects and transfer it to the Michigan Public Service Commission. 

Opposed by Michigan Farm Bureau, each piece of the four-bill package passed 9-7 in committee in a party-line vote.

Voting yes: Reps. Scott (D-Detroit), Andrews (D-St. Joseph), Coleman (D-Westland), Neeley (D-Flint), Byrnes (D-Dearborn), Churches (D-Wyandotte), Hill (D-Marquette), MacDonell (D-Troy) and McFall (D-Hazel Park). 

Voting no: Reps. Outman (R-Six Lakes), Aragona (R-Clinton Twp), BeGole (R-Antrim Twp), Greene (R-Richmond), Prestin (R-Cedar River), Schmaltz (R-Jackson), and Wendzel (R-Watervliet). 

Rep. Whitsett (D-Detroit) declined to vote.

House Bills 5120, 5121, 5122 and 5123 now advance to the full House for consideration where party vote margins are slim: 56 Democrats and 54 Republicans. 


More than 1,700 local county Farm Bureau members and supporters from across the state have sent more than 3,400 messages to state representatives and senators voicing their concern with the legislation.

“We’re disappointed in the outcome of the committee hearing,” said MFB Legislative Counsel Andrew Vermeesch.

“It’s critical we continue to voice our opposition and protect the ability of local governments to make decisions regarding wind, solar and energy storage projects.

“Simply put, they understand their communities better than any state-governed board ever will.” 

Send a prewritten or personalized message yourself from or text ‘MIENERGY’ to 52886.

Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) also opposes the legislation and testified before the committee Wednesday. 

“Some of you may think of zoning as a function of townships or cities, but we have 20 counties in Michigan that are currently zoning countywide for renewable energy facilities,” said Madeline Fata, governmental affairs associate for MAC. 

“Those counties have dedicated time and resources and have collaborated with their constituents and other local leaders to develop and implement their plans — it's our intent today to protect the thoughtful work of our members.” 

She went on to share concerns similar to those voiced by the Michigan Townships Association and MFB.

“We cannot continue to revisit one-size-fits-all methods,” Fata said. “Each community has different preferences for setbacks, berms, trees, pollinators, decibel levels, safety plans, etcetera. 

“…Some (county ordinances) are more, some are less restrictive than what is proposed in this legislation, but each is tailored to the wants and needs of that specific community.” 

She closed by stating it’s not MAC’s goal to stand in the way of renewables, but that local voices cannot be sacrificed at the expense of rapid industry growth.

Legislation mirroring the House bills was introduced in Senate Bills 585-588 last week, but it’s unclear if or when the Senate Energy and Environment Committee will consider the bills. 

Andrew Vermeesch headshot

Andrew Vermeesch

Legislative Counsel
517-679-4778 [email protected]