LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The fight over rezoning land for large-scale solar plants could be heading to the ballot box if an activist group has its way.
Proposed plans for solar and wind power plants across the state have sparked heated town hall and county commission meetings.
While the petition summary is back to the drawing board, the woman behind it said she and other farmers are worried about the future of the land they depend on.
“Part of what’s going on with everything across the state, is because farmland has been okayed to be rezoned for solar and industrial solar use,” said Founder of Michigan Citizens for the Protection of Farmland, Erin Hamilton.
She answered several questions about a 100-word summary of a proposed petition on solar utility plants.
It calls for legislation to “prohibit large-scale solar power installations, including those used to generate electricity for sale to utilities, on land zoned for agricultural use”
It does make an exception for personal use of solar panels.
Hamilton reaffirmed that her group’s focus is on new solar power plants on rezoned land.
Several board members said the language in the first draft was broad.
Some opponents pushed back on the petition saying it would drastically pull zoning power from local committees and give it to the state.
Others claim the language would shut down currently working solar plants and throttle renewable energy projects.
“This is a broad restriction on business decision making and prohibiting this development means higher electricity rates for all of us ranging into the millions and billions of dollars,” said Erin Rivet, the Executive Director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Advocacy Fund.
The push to restrict land rezoning to make way for large solar and wind power plants is a topic that has been gaining traction across mid-Michigan.
Earlier this month, Clinton County’s planning commission voted to start drafting a temporary moratorium on zoning for wind and solar utility projects.
Erin Hamilton withdrew the petition with plans to resubmit the revised initiative next week.
Hamilton said her main concern is to create more opportunities for farmers and said land preservation for agricultural use is one way to do that.
“There need to be more programs, there need to be more opportunities to support farmers. They should be making more than anyone. They are producing our food, they are working hard to do that. So I think it’s bringing that to light how much they need our support,” said Hamilton.
She said her group’s goal is to get this initiative on the 2024 ballot.