Sweeping clean energy bills passed in Michigan
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
New clean energy legislation in Michigan has passed and is heading to the governor's desk to be signed into law. Backers of the bills said they will allow Michigan to meet its energy needs in a more cost-effective and cleaner manner by improving renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.
Laura Sherman, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, said the legislation is predicted to create more than 160,000 new, well-paid, nonexportable clean energy jobs for Michiganders.
"Farmers and other landowners who wanted a passive source of income -- to save their family farms, to harvest solar or wind energy -- were being prevented by decisions made at the local level by a minority of voices, and a whole lot of fearmongering and unfounded concerns," Sherman asserted.
Sherman pointed out the legislation will also lower household electricity bills by investing in more affordable energy sources and capturing federal benefits. It is expected to help people save money through expanded energy efficiency programs, including insulation, window and lighting upgrades.
One goal of the legislation is to help transition the state to more renewable energy sources.
William Chilman, superintendent of Beal City Public Schools in Isabella County, thinks the transition should mean diversifying the energy grid, increasing tax revenue for communities, bringing in clean energy business investment, and potentially lowering energy costs long-term.
Chilman argued Michigan should aim for a mix of fossil fuels and renewable energy to avoid overreliance on any one source.
"We should be trying to develop as many different types of energy as we possibly can, to make it more difficult for that grid to come crashing down at some point or another," Chilman contended. "If we have different ways to feed that grid, the better off we're all going to be."
He noted a wind farm in his local township has generated more than $10 million in new tax revenue for itself, for Isabella County and schools, including more than $1.5 million to his district. Chilman added the challenge will be building solar or wind capacity while avoiding using too much acreage, which can coexist with farmland.
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