How Michigan farmers and communities can benefit from our historic clean energy laws

How Michigan farmers and communities can benefit from our historic clean energy laws

Michigan’s Clean Energy and Jobs Act (CEJA) passed in November 2023 has established Michigan as a national leader in clean energy and climate action. 

Our new energy laws have put the Great Lakes State on a path to reach 100% clean energy statewide by 2040 by building out wind and solar projects faster than almost all other states, enacting the highest labor standards of any climate legislation, and making Michigan a top 3 state in the country for weatherization and energy efficiency programs. 

But our new clean energy laws have also changed the game when it comes to regulating big energy utility companies, moving toward utility-scale wind and solar projects, and allowing Michigan communities to take advantage of clean energy projects. 

A key piece of the Clean Energy and Jobs Act package – House Bill 5120 – has laid the groundwork to improve Michigan’s process for siting clean energy projects by standardizing how clean energy projects are sited and creating a local-state approval process. Previously, there was a patchwork of zoning ordinances and local laws that varied greatly from community to community. Under the new law, there are standards in place that will make siting renewable energy projects more transparent and streamlined. 

House Bill 5120 empowers farmers and landowners by allowing local decision-making and local input while setting important requirements and guidelines for utility-scale clean energy projects. Furthermore, it establishes reasonable zoning requirements governing size and distance guidelines and ensures Michigan communities will benefit financially from siting clean energy projects on local land. 

Additionally, House Bill 5120 will continue to ensure the protection of Michigan farmland by mandating the MPSC account for negative impacts from clean energy projects and consider alternate locations. It also ensures strong wage and labor protections centering on apprenticeship programs, prevailing wages, and labor rights agreements to direct the benefits of clean energy investment to the communities projects are sited in. Finally, the law focuses on ensuring environmental protections in compliance with Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act preventing any negative impacts to water and soil. 

Utility-scale wind and solar projects will drive benefits directly to Michigan communities. The transition to renewable energy will spur economic growth and environmental benefits and create opportunities for Michigan communities. New investment in wind and solar projects will create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and help lower household energy costs, all while providing cleaner air and helping address the accelerating climate crisis. 

By investing in clean energy and allowing wind and solar projects to be sited more efficiently, Michigan will reduce its dependence on coal and gas power plants, providing cleaner air for our families and kids to breathe. Additionally, Michigan farmers and rural landowners stand to benefit greatly from financial incentives, such as tax revenue that can be used for Michigan communities, road and infrastructure improvements, local school districts, first responders, and more. 

Between the jobs that stand to be created, more affordable energy sources, and economic growth and opportunity for rural communities, the changes brought about by House Bill 5120 are a no-brainer for Michigan.

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