Rep. Johnsen today expressed opposition to energy mandates approved by House Democrats this week, which would strip control from local communities and increase utility bills by $200 a month on average.
In addition to costly, the representative said the carbon neutrality plan is irresponsible and rushed. The plan also circumvents local control by giving the Michigan Public Service Commission – a three-member board appointed by the governor – the authority to permit large solar and wind construction.
Johnsen said the policies outlined in House Bills 5120-21 are far too extreme and give the people of Michigan zero ability to hold the commission accountable.
“Large-scale solar and wind energy projects will be able to be implemented without the consent of the communities that will be affected by them,” Johnsen said. “Local boards and commissions have put a tremendous amount of work into crafting zoning ordinances and master plans after listening to their residents’ concerns. Giving this unelected commission the sole deciding authority allows the governor to ignore what local communities want and fulfill the promises she’s made to Big Solar, adding thousands of square miles of new wind and solar farms in rural communities like ours.”
Senate Bill 271 exponentially increases the state’s existing renewable energy standard that was laid out in a bipartisan plan in 2016. Currently, the energy standard is set at 15%, but the partisan plan approved today would increase the standard more and more over the coming years, ultimately spiking it to 60% by 2033.
Additionally, the bill requires providers to meet a new clean energy standard of 80% by 2035 and 100% by 2040.
Johnsen said plan’s timeline is unrealistic and will be costly to achieve, leading to significantly increased energy costs for Michigan families and job providers. One study estimates a 96% increase in consumer rates and a 142% increase in commercial rates under the Democrats’ proposed timeline.
“Our utility bills are going to skyrocket,” Johnsen said. “My constituents simply cannot afford what will be a huge price hike. This move is eerily reminiscent of the kind of central planning that went on in the Soviet Union. We are headed in a dangerous direction.”
Michigan’s two largest utilities, DTE and Consumers Energy, have already set goals to achieve net zero carbon emissions without government mandates. Consumers Energy set its goal to 2040, and DTE to 2050. Consumers Energy plans to shut down all coal-fired plants by 2025, while DTE plans to close its last coal plant in 2032.
Johnsen and other Republicans have said a better plan would be to supplement existing natural gas plants with new nuclear power plants, which would be far less expensive than the current proposal while still decreasing pollution with greater reliability.
Experts estimate that an entirely carbon-free grid powered by wind and solar will see blackouts of up to 61 hours in the winter when sunlight and winds are low.
“When people get their 2023 tax returns, many will be getting back more money than they expected,” Johnsen said. “Those increased returns are a direct result of a Republican tax cut. Unfortunately, Democrats twisted the law, which was intended to be permanent, so it would only have effect through 2023. This new Republican plan couldn’t be clearer. The income tax would be immediately lowered to 3.9%, getting tax relief for the working class and leaving no bureaucratic loopholes for the governor to exploit.”
“Gov. Whitmer claims she’s helped Michigan families keep more of what they earn and reduce household expenses, but that’s not what I hear from my constituents who continue to suffer at the hands of inflation and burdensome income tax rates.”