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Dickinson board worried about reforms for siting energy projects

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County will try to preserve some local control over the siting of large energy projects even as legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer effectively gives the Michigan Public Service Commission the final say.

Some of the concerns put forward by the Michigan Association of Counties were resolved in the final version of the legislation, but local governments will still be limited in what they consider when deciding on an application, according to MAC.

“This is too political,” Commissioner Barbara Kramer said at a Dickinson County Board meeting Monday. A local ordinance, Kramer said, could “at least slow the process down in Dickinson County.”

The siting reform law applies to solar facilities greater than 50 megawatts and wind facilities greater than 100 megawatts. It is intended to make it easier for solar and wind facilities to be built across the state.

Under the law, a local unit of government can adopt a “compatible renewable energy ordinance,” but it cannot be more restrictive than what’s prescribed in the law. A siting application can be denied locally, but the Public Service Commission can override that decision if it finds the denial was unreasonable.

Commissioner Joe Stevens said the county must oppose legislation that shifts decision-making to the state. “We cannot give up local control to Lansing,” he said.

While acknowledging the PSC can override local decisions, Commissioner John Degenaer Jr. said the law is “not taking all county control away.” The county needs to study the law “and come up with a plan,” he said.

Jim Anderson can be reached at 906-774-2772 ext. 226 or janderson@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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