State Reps. Greg Markkanen and Dave Prestin today ripped into new bills that significantly minimize the wants and priorities of residents concerning large-scale solar and wind energy projects in their communities.
House Bills 5120-5123, which were introduced by House Democrats on Tuesday and received a hearing today before the House Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee, would give the unelected Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) the authority to permit large solar and wind construction, diminishing local input and the roles of local elected officials. The three-member board is made exclusively of Governor Whitmer’s appointees.
“People in the U.P. know what works for U.P. families and communities better than bureaucrats in Lansing,” said Markkanen, of Hancock. “This is not only incredibly concerning in terms of our future with energy, but it sets a dangerous precedent for how big government can come in and cast local voices and representation aside.
“Gov. Whitmer has been vocal about the need to streamline a radical green energy initiative. Streamline in this case means using government as an axe to chop down any legitimate, local pushback that may pop up with these types of projects.”
People throughout the state have turned out to their local government board meetings to voice opposition to wind and solar projects planned in their communities. In many cases, local elected boards and commissions have decided to deny construction plans for the projects after listening to the concerns of their constituents. Additionally, voters in many Michigan communities have rejected ballot proposals that would have expanded the ability to install wind and solar farms in their area.
“The people who are behind these bills want to fulfill a radical agenda on the backs of rural Michigan,” said Prestin, of Cedar River, when addressing testimony on the bills in the House Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee today. “Going forward, this increase in renewables and stepping on the authority of rural America is not going to put us in a better place or a more affordable place. The ends are attempting to justify the means here, and we’re not having an honest conversation about generation or grid reliability. Our areas have the least population density, so the state forcing this onto our communities with these reforms eliminates pushback and diminishes our voices. It’s wrong.”
“Democrats are using their bare-majority in Lansing to end-around losing local election after local election,” Markkanen said. “When the voters told them ‘No’ they should have gotten the hint. Their AOC style Green-New-Deal doesn’t poll well in Peoria, and it does even worse in Portage Township. Yoopers already pay the highest electricity prices in the continental United States. It’s one of the biggest problems our communities face. These bills, and the people who advocate for policies like it, will only make the energy affordability crisis in the U.P. worse. Count me out.”
House Democrats previously introduced House Bills 4759-4761, which would force Michigan electric companies to use entirely carbon-free power sources by 2035, closing natural gas plants, driving the cost of electricity through the roof, and making the grid more susceptible to blackouts.
HBs 5120-23 work hand in hand with this accelerated and reckless timeline. The bills remain under consideration in the House Energy, Communications and Technology Committee.
“This is the best and safest option for Yoopers,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “There is no other realistic way to move natural gas without a pipeline. Trucking would be nearly impossible and would have a far greater negative impact. This is a common-sense solution that makes sense for everyone.”
“This project will bring jobs and an incredible investment to the Calumet community,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “Anytime we can pair an investment in local business with an investment in our armed forces, it’s a win for Michigan.”
“Many U.P. residents want freedom to install their own solar and have energy independence when possible,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “But they also need reliable and affordable energy when the sun is not out and the wind is not blowing. They also do not want tens of thousands of acres of their communities forced into being solar panels.”
“Local control is essential in all aspects of government, especially in projects that could change the entire landscape of a community,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “The people who know best about our community were elected by our friends and neighbors to make those decisions. It’s vital that our voices don’t get drowned out by Lansing Democrats who want to make the U.P. into a parking lot full of windmills.”