LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — State or local government, who has the right to approve solar and wind farms in Michigan?
Well, that’s the question a house committee considered this morning. House Democrats introduced the Clean Energy and Jobs Act.
It’s a package of bills they say would speed up the approval process for renewable energy.
“These bills are aiming to move the decision-making of citing renewable generation projects up to the Michigan Public Service Commission,” said Justin Carpenter, Policy Director for the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.
From local authority to the state, they say it’ll solve a roadblock.
“Townships are putting up restrictive ordinances that are designed to block renewable generation,” Carpenter said.
But as these bills tread on local government territory, they received harsh opposition not just from Republican legislators but officials at the local level.
They say a state commission doesn’t know what their community needs.
Judy Allen, Government Relations for the Michigan Township Association
“How do the residents intervene; how do they have their voice heard? Michigan Public Service Commission currently does not have any expertise in land citing and approval process. This is going to affect communities across the state,” Allen said.
Allen argues local landowners who want to farm energy have a right to referendum meaning if local government strikes it down, they can take a public vote. With these new bills, they can bypass any local process completely.
But in a state that has lofty “clean energy” goals, speeding up the process might take priority.
“Legislation that allows this to flourish is extremely important,” Carpenter said.
“We are happy to sit down and try to work with all parties to try and come up with any type of solution that would retain that local voice in the process,” Allen said.
The bills are still in the early stages, but many are eager to see which way the wind will blow.