Markkanen encourages public input on wind, solar siting laws


IRON MOUNTAIN — Michigan Public Service Commission will have virtual meetings today and Tuesday, March 19, via Microsoft Teams to discuss implementation of the state’s new renewable energy and energy storage siting laws.

Both sessions are from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time. Information on participating is available at https://www.michigan.gov/mpsc/commission/events.

MPSC is taking public comment regarding the details of how the new law will be implemented, said state Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Hancock. He opposes the legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year.

Public Act 233 gives MPSC the authority to supersede local governments in deciding whether to allow large wind and solar projects. The siting law that takes effect Nov. 29 sets statewide standards for solar projects of 50 megawatts or greater, wind facilities with 100 megawatts or more, and energy storage facilities with a capacity of 50 megawatts or more.

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 MPSC can override that decision if it finds the denial was unreasonable.

“It’s the worst-kept secret in Michigan that radical environmentalists plan to power their cities by turning rural communities into parking lots filled with windmills,” Markkanen said in a news release. “When you start talking about stripping the little control Yoopers have and giving it to unelected bureaucrats in Lansing, you’ll find out quick that folks in the U.P. can sure make a lot of noise.”

According to the MPSC, topics of discussion will include application filing guidelines, application fees, use of consultants, pre-application consultations, the development of compatible renewable energy ordinances, and other issues that arise during the process.

The legislation passed along party lines in November, with Republicans opposed. Dickinson County Board has joined the Michigan Association of Counties and the Michigan Townships Association in protesting the siting provisions.

During debate in Lansing last year, MPSC Chairman Dan Scripps told lawmakers an additional 209,000 acres of land will be needed to site wind and solar generation to hit a 60% renewable energy goal by 2035. Only about 17,000 acres are now used for that purpose, he said.

Supporters of the siting law say it’s needed because resistance to large wind and solar arrays is hurting the state’s transition to renewable energy. According to the Associated Press, a study by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University showed that at least 25 large-scale renewable energy projects in Michigan have been derailed by local restrictions.

Opponents contend the new siting law deprives local communities of the right to make their own decisions on land uses.

Jim Anderson can be reached at 906-774-3500, ext. 226, or janderson@ironmountaindailynews.com.


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