Rural Michigan Officials May Lose Zoning Power Over Solar / Wind 

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Governor's Green Agenda could take a big step forward with new bill


Some legislative Democrats have called for giving state regulators more say over land-use decisions to advance their green energy goals. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who would have to sign any legislation into law, must decide whether she will stand by her past advocacy of local officials or favor a greater role for the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Four House bills, HB 5120-5123, would preempt local governments, which have used zoning ordinances to have a say over whether or where industrial-scale wind or solar power developments go up. Local governments and others could present their views at MPSC meetings if these bills become law, but state regulators would have the final say, according to an analysis by the House Fiscal Agency.

The governor suggested in a press release that she favors the bills to give state regulators more control over what have been local decisions. “To hit our clean energy goals, the Michigan Public Service Commission needs more tools,” Whitmer said Aug. 30.

The governor has in the past praised local governments and rejected efforts to restrict their power.

In 2021, Whitmer said she would not enforce a measure in the budget that would have prohibited local and state health officials from imposing mask mandates on children under 18, according to Chalkbeat Detroit.

This article is an excerpt from Michigan Capitol Confidential, the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.