Michigan House Energy Committee Continues Discussions Regarding Accessible Solar Power

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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) – Efforts to establish more community solar facilities in the Upper Peninsula continued today.

The Michigan House Energy Committee is considering moving forward with legislation that could make renewable energy more accessible. As renewables become commonplace in many states, current Michigan laws prevent landless people from choosing clean energy.

“Unfortunately, few Michigan residents have this option based on the current accessibility of community solar power,” said John Kinch, executive director of Michigan Energy Options.

To solve this problem, the State House Energy Committee introduced two clean energy bills. Lawmakers listened to testimony about them today. If approved, the measures could trigger the widespread availability of solar power in Michigan.

“Community solar panels would really help,” said Greg Markkanen, representative for State House’s 110th District in Michigan.

“It just gives people another energy option across the state.”

More community solar farms could also reduce energy costs for residents.

“Some taxpayers on the Upper Peninsula, especially those in the UPPCO territory, pay about 25 cents per kilowatt hour, which is 67% more than the Michigan average,” said Robert Hazen, a student at Michigan Technological University.

Hazen is one of two MTU students who testified before the House committee on Wednesday morning.

“The community solar power activation policy would give customers the freedom to choose how they get their energy, the ability to lower their utility bills and build a more sustainable future if they can’t afford it. to install solar panels in their backyard or on their roof, ”Hazen said in a statement to TV6.

“A community solar panel can be placed in an area outside the community or in an area of ​​the community where the panel is the sunniest. The benefits of this program encourage customers to be energy efficient; it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces the number of late payments and accounts for delinquency. Community solar is the solution to offset these high energy costs, and it will be our only sustainable way forward. “

While many of those supporting these bills believe they could lower energy costs, others disagree.

“While this legislation seeks to provide options for solar access, it does not prioritize affordability and reliability, the two key components present in utility offerings,” said Sarah Nielsen, Director Executive of Consumers Energy Renewables, Transportation and Storage.

Nielsen is one of two speakers who testified against the bill. Opponents like Chuck Conlen, vice chairman of Renewable DTE Energy, believe the legislation will threaten the Upper Peninsula’s switch to renewable energy.

“These policies jeopardize Michigan’s transition to a clean energy future by putting a glut of unaffordable energy onto the grid that is subsidized, often by many people who are already struggling to pay their monthly bills,” said Conlen .

Community solar projects could add more than 18,000 new jobs to an industry that already employs more than 110,000 people in Michigan, according to a recent Michigan State University study.

Michigan House Representative Greg Markkanen said the House did not have a specific timeline for the Energy Committee’s vote on the measures.

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