The Michigan Legislature is working on a package of bills that would take away local zoning control for commercial wind and solar projects and transfer it to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).
During her recent “What’s Next Address,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer indicated she supported transferring renewable energy siting to the state and plans to work with lawmakers on the issue.
“Let’s enact a 100% clean energy standard for Michigan,” Whitmer said in her address. “To hit our clean energy goals, the Michigan Public Service Commission needs more tools.”
The House and Senate are poised to deliberate and vote on bills to shift siting control to the state this fall.
Michigan Farm Bureau opposes any actions that would eliminate local control on siting for commercial renewable energy projects, according to MFB legislative counsel Andrew Vermeesch.
“Michigan Farm Bureau supports local siting for renewable projects through member-driven, grassroots policy encouraging farmers and county Farm Bureaus to work with local governments to establish zoning for renewable energy,” Vermeesch said, adding that the organization’s policies call for members becoming active in land use zoning, such as meeting with local officials.
Further, MFB policy supports the current township government system, which makes Michigan a “Home Rule” state that provides local control to local units of government regarding zoning.
“State-level decision making from unelected officials can lead to one-size-fits-all regulations that may not adequately address the diversity of local conditions and preferences across different townships,” said Matt Kapp, MFB land use and local government specialist.
“No one knows a community better than its own residents, who serve as local officials.
“These individuals have a deep understanding of their unique geographic landscape, allowing them to assess suitable specific locations for solar projects in ways that state level authorities many not fully understand.”
Kapp noted local officials are directly accountable to their constituents and the community they serve, making them more transparent and responsive in their decision-making process.
“There’re 1,240 townships in Michigan,” Kapp said. “What works well for one township may not work well for another.”