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Whitmer signs landmark energy law

Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Detroit on 11/18/23
Rick Pluta
Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Detroit on 11/18/23

The new law sets ambitious targets and it clears the way for more solar and wind farms by making it harder for communities to refuse them

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a landmark energy law in Detroit on Tuesday that sets an ambitious goal for Michigan to generate 100 % of its energy from renewable resources by 2040.

Whitmer declared herself “a climate optimist” as she signed the 11-bill package at Detroit’s Eastern Market.

“Pessimism is pointless,” she said. “Let’s believe. Let’s fight for future generations. Let’s get it done.”

But to accomplish that, the new law will take away the ability of local governments to reject large wind and solar energy projects on private property. That will be preempted by the Michigan Public Service Commission, the state’s utility-regulating agency.

“So to make sure we’re successful, we’re making it easier for landowners to build solar panels and wind turbines and big batteries on their properties,” she said. “Our perspective is simple: It’s your land. You should have the freedom to use it however you want.”

Whitmer also said the new law will boost the state’s economy and help create thousands of union-wage jobs.
Environmental groups praised the new law.

“Fifty years ago, the extent of coal and oil’s threats were just being realized,” said Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer of the Michigan Environmental Council. “Twenty years ago, coal plants were still being proposed in-state. Now, a 100% clean energy future is in sight.”

But Republicans, who opposed the bills in the Legislature, said the new law is unrealistic and erodes the power of local governments to make decisions affecting their communities.

“While the people of Michigan are still struggling with higher costs, Lansing Democrats are applauding the imposition of far-left, unworkable energy mandates that will further increase energy costs and make Michigan energy less reliable,” said Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt (R-Porter Township).

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