Michigan power providers would have to reach a 100% clean energy standard by 2040 under sweeping climate bills approved late Thursday and early Friday in the Democratic-led House. Legislators also voted to let renewable developers seek state permits to site large-scale wind and solar farms in communities that block the projects.
The party-line votes capped a marathon day and night of session and likely cleared the legislation’s path to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who wants lawmakers to act this fall. The Senate, also controlled by Democrats, passed the main measures last week and appears poised to OK the siting bills next week before legislators potentially adjourn for the year.
Under Senate Bill 271, a 15% renewable mandate, which ended in 2021, would be reinstated and rise to 50% in 2030 and 60% in 2035, when a concurrent 80% “clean energy” requirement would kick in before going to 100% in 2040. Michigan currently has a goal that 35% of electric needs me met through renewable energy and energy waste reduction by 2025.
Electric providers would have to achieve a portfolio of 100% clean or renewable energy. That could include wind, solar, dams, geothermal, biomass, nuclear, natural gas — if technology is at least 90% effective in capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide — and potentially other types if allowed by regulators. Utilities have turned to burning natural gas as they close coal-fired plants.
Utilities and alternative suppliers could seek an extension from a renewable or clean energy deadline if they show that complying would be practically infeasible, excessively costly to customers, not produce enough electricity or cause reliability issues. The Michigan Public Service Commission could grant an unlimited number of two-year extensions.
The siting measures, House Bills 5020-5021, would let power providers and independent power producers seek construction permits for big wind, solar and energy storage operations from the Public Service Commission.
A local government with a compatible ordinance would have to approve or deny the application within four months. The applicant and municipality could agree to extend the deadline by up to four months.
It “empowers locals and puts the process directly with locals first,” said Rep. Abraham Aiyash, a Hamtramck Democrat and sponsor of the main siting bill. “Locals would now have an opportunity to set up a process and if they set up a process, so long as it matches similar state standards, a developer would be required to go through this local process first.”
Landowners, he said, should have the flexibility and freedom to voluntarily lease their land to developers. Municipal officials and residents say they should be able to determine whether to allow renewable projects.
The state certification process would be available for proposed wind farms with a capacity of at least 100 megawatts, solar farms with a capacity of 50 or more megawatts and storage facilities with a capacity of at least 100 megawatts and an energy discharge capability of 200 megawatt hours or more. The applicant would give up to $75,000 to each affected local government — no more than $150,000 total across multiple municipalities — to cover its costs to intervene in the proceeding.
The Public Service Commission would be required to grant an application if it meets certain requirements, including that construction workers are paid prevailing wages, panels and blades are minimum distances from roads and adjacent properties, developers agree to community benefits agreements and union agreements, and the facility will not unreasonably diminish prime or other farmland.
“These legislative packages offer solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the energy transition,” said Trish Demeter, managing director with Advanced Energy United, an industry association. “With a 100% clean energy goal, and reduced barriers to building wind, solar and energy storage projects, Michigan affirms its place as a leader in the clean energy economy.”Read the full article here .