October 31, 2023
If you haven’t yet heard, legislators in Lansing want to take control away from local governments for large scale wind and solar farms. They want to take this right away from townships and cities and put the permitting process in the hands of the MPSC (Michigan Public Service Commission). This commission consists of 3 members, all appointed by the governor and is the commission that votes to allow (or not) utility rate increases. These commissioners can NOT be voted out by you if they do a poor job. And if these bills are passed, this 3-member commission will decide if a 1000-acre solar farm goes in across the street from your house.
The state has attempted power grabs like this in the past, trying to take away land use regulation from local governments for things like gravel mining and short term rentals. Thankfully, these initiatives have failed, at least in part due to our representatives and senators hearing from people like you.
Michigan House Bills 5120, 5121, 5122 5123, and the State Senate’s identical bills, SB 585, 586, 587, and 588 would strip local units of government of the power to regulate local land use for wind and solar farms of 50 megawatts or larger. These bills were voted out of the House committee on "Energy, Communication, and Technology" two weeks ago, meaning their next step is a vote on the House floor.
A floor vote was expected in the House last week, but it didn't happen. It didn't happen because they don't yet have the votes to get them passed!
That is because folks like you have let them know you don't care for government overreach and power grabs by the state.
And we need YOUR voice again!
As you may or may not know, according to Michigan state law, specifically the Michigan Zoning and Enabling Act (MZEA) of 2006, local units of government (townships and cities) are given the authority to regulate land use in their municipalities. This makes sense since these locally elected officials know their municipality the best, are elected by the local voters, and can respond to issues much more quickly than the state. These local elected officials can also be voted out of office if they don't do a good job.
Whether you are a proponent of wind or solar or not, a board of 3 governor appointed commissioners should not be deciding where all of the wind and solar farms should be placed in our state. This should be done by your locally elected officials, and they are granted this authority through the MZEA.
Wind and Solar energy sources should supplement our energy grid, not replace it, and care should be taken to better understand the full environmental picture before filling hundreds of thousands of acres of Michigan farmland with wind turbines that mar our beautiful landscape and solar panels that contain lead, can’t be recycled, are put in landfills at the end of their useful life, and are very harmful to water supplies in countries that mine for the heavy metal components these panels contain.
With only six days of session likely remaining this year (three days this week and three days next week), the legislature is “running out of time to jam these bills through. Even if you've already contacted them, please contact them again.
A rally was held Thursday, Oct. 26, at 2:00 pm on the Capitol grounds. Nearly 100 people were present before a special meeting of the Senate Committee on ‘Energy and Environment’ in which the committee was going to take up identical Senate bills 585, 586, 587 and 588.
As a result, the Senate committee canceled its meeting and did not discuss the bills. Similar rallies are planned for this week.
Keep up the pressure! Contact your Michigan state representative and state senator. Urge them to vote NO: Tell them decisions for local land use belong in the local community. House Bills 5120, 5121, 5122 5123 and the Senate’s identical bills, SB 585, 586, 587, and 588 throw open the door to state government land grabs. This is a power grab by large corporate lobbyists and disrespect for local control and individual property rights.
They are working on tiny amendments to these bills, and we need to keep contacting them to tell them how we feel. Otherwise, they will say they've made amendments and people stopped raising concerns so they must have satisfied our concerns with the amendments. Let me tell you that the amendments have nothing to do with removing the attempted state takeover of your township's right to regulate these land uses. The bills needed to be voted down entirely, not ‘tweeked’.
A recent survey by the Michigan Township Association has shown that 87% of Michiganders agree that permitting for large scale renewable energy projects should remain at the local level. Also, 71% of Michiganders oppose a state takeover of permitting for these facilities.
Any elected official who ignores these statistics and the voice of the Michigan people, and votes in favor of these bills, needs to be voted out of office in 2024.
In addition to these survey results, over 100 township and county boards have written resolutions expressing opposition to this state takeover of land use regulation and have sent this resolution to the governor and their respective representatives and senators. This is an unprecedented level of outreach from local elected officials to the state legislators.
In a recent email from the MTA, they state that “planning experts have said that this legislation would be the beginning of the end of local zoning. Even if you do not believe these facilities could be located in your community, we need your help to protect local authority. Please spread the word and encourage your fellow township leaders and residents to reach out as well. Every call and contact helps in our efforts to protect local control in this important issue that creates lasting change in communities for decades.”
Please call or email your representatives and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same. Your locally elected officials will have your best interests in mind much more than the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) will. And remember, the MPSC is appointed by the governor, not elected by the people.
Find your state representative here --> https://house.mi.gov/
Find your state senator here --> https://www.senate.michigan.gov/FindYourSenator/
Thank you for taking action.