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Major Solar Power Law Change Could Affect Michigan Residents in 2024

Michigan lawmakers are considering a series of bills which could dramatically change the solar power development landscape. Currently, under the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, localities harness the power to approve or disapprove of solar and wind development in their respective communities. The current Michigan legislature is looking to change this.

For large solar and wind developments, if enacted, House Bills 5120-5123 would move development approval authority away from local governments to the state of Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

It is a drastic policy change but not surprising as it is in line with Michigan’s goal of becoming friendlier for solar and wind energy.

Proponents of the bills believe it will help push Michigan away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources. Opponents of the bills believe the localities are losing power to control their community while having to bear the burdens of infrastructure expansion.  

Key provisions that could immediately affect all citizens in Michigan include:

  • Those who want to utilize large solar and wind developments must hold a public meeting in each affected local unit with a thorough site plan and must have a meeting with the chief elected official of the affected local unit before seeking approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission.[1]

  • An applicant for a permit from the Michigan Public Service Commission must enter into one or more agreements with, or that benefit, one or more community-based organizations. Some examples include requiring local citizens of the affected community be hired for construction of the solar or wind project, funding for specific local community improvements such as parks or playgrounds or roads, and contributions to local nonprofits. These agreements are legally binding and enforceable if construction of the solar or wind energy facility commences.[2]

  • If a permit is issued by the Michigan Public Service Commission, the local zoning restriction constraining solar and wind energy development will become preempted by the State issued permit.[3]

There are other provisions that could affect you, a Michigan landowner. The attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, PLC are highly experienced in all aspects of land use, including solar and wind development projects, and are here to help guide you through any and all legal complexities to help achieve your goals.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to speak with you. 

This blog was authored by a post bar law clerk, not an attorney. While we strive to provide informative content, this post should not be considered legal advice.

[1] HB 5120 Sec. 223(1)-(2).

[2] HB 5120 Sec. 227.

[3] HB 5120 Sec. 230.

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