Michigan Townships Association

Renewable energy siting and permitting

Public Acts 233 and 234 of 2023, which preempt existing local siting authority, set statewide siting standards and grant siting authority for utility-scale renewable energy facilities to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC),  will take effect on Nov. 29, 2024.

MTA Board votes to support initiative efforts to repeal PA 233

MTA’s Board of Directors has voted to support the efforts of an initiative petition, led by the group Citizens for Local Choice, that would repeal PA 233 and return local control over utility-scale renewable energy facilities to Michigan’s communities. Read more here.

Reminder: The Michigan Campaign Finance Act limits how a public body can use public funds or property when it comes to campaigning for ballot questions or candidates. For guidance on what townships and township officials may—and may not—do in their official capacity and as individuals to support ballot initiatives, see MTA’s fact sheet,  “Getting the Word Out: Campaign Finance Act Compliance”, as well as our new fact sheet on Campaign Materials on Township Property. Find additional resources on MTA’s “Campaign Finance Act Compliance” webpage (login is required to access the webpage).

MPSC begins implementation of renewable energy facility law

The MPSC has initiated the process to begin implementing the new law, and will address PA 233 implementation in Case No. U-21547. Individuals can sign up on the case webpage to be notified of any filings and review any public comments received. A siting implementation work page will also host information on workgroup meetings (time, date, participation information, agenda, presentations, and meeting recordings etc.) along with updates on commission activities and background information. An e-mail sign up at the bottom of the page allows you to receive information on all the meetings and information that is sent out.

Inside the law
The legislation applies to all solar projects with a nameplate capacity of 50 megawatts or greater, wind projects with a nameplate capacity of 100 megawatts and energy storage facilities with a nameplate capacity of 50 megawatts or more. This fast-tracked legislation, which was introduced and passed in less than a month, was a priority of the governor’s administration.

To require a developer to go through a local unit of government, the local unit must have a “compatible renewable energy ordinance” that complies with statewide standards such as setbacks, decibel levels and height. A renewable energy ordinance is not considered compatible if it is more restrictive than the statewide standards. The local unit would then be limited to a period of 120 days to approve or deny the project with a possible extension of up to 120 days ONLY if mutually agreed upon by the local unit and the developer. If the local unit denies or fails to act on the proposal, the MPSC would then receive the application.

If a local unit does not have a “compatible renewable energy ordinance,” the developer would apply directly to the MPSC which would have 60 days to review the application to determine if it is complete and one year to approve or deny the application. Additionally, while MPSC shall consider the impact on the local land use, including the percentage of land within the local unit of government dedicated to energy generation, the legislation does not limit the overall land that can be utilized in a local unit for said purposes.  A one-time $2,000 per megawatt payment in provided from the energy facility owner to the local unit for public safety and infrastructure purposes; however, both parties (the local unit and the energy facility owner) must agree on how the funds can be spent.  

MTA and its members stridently opposed the legislation, which creates a one-size-fits-all approach for Michigan’s communities. This legislation silences the voices of local officials and residents over these important local decisions. We believe that the siting and permitting of renewable facilities should remain with the local community where that facility will be located for the next 20 to 50 years.

“These bills represent a continued attack on the ability for Michigan’s residents and their locally elected officials to have the final say on how their communities grow and change. The new laws simply do not create a balanced or equitable approach to our state’s renewable energy needs,” stated Neil Sheridan, MTA Executive Director. “Rather, the legislation unduly forces large, utility-scale renewable energy facilities into our rural areas, while also stripping away local input on where and how much should be located in a community. The new laws prescribe statewide, one-size-fits-all requirements, and negate current renewable energy zoning provisions already carefully and thoughtfully enacted in communities around the state.”
We continue to work with our partners and experts to help navigate a path forward for our members and address the many unanswered questions and concerns that remain for local leaders and their residents.
Watch for additional information in our Township Insights enewsletter, Township Focus magazine and on MTA’s website.

MTA press releaseHouse-passed renewable energy siting bills do not protect local control

MTA press releaseLocal officials and residents across Michigan want local decisions over renewable energy facilities in their communities

MTA press release—Poll: Residents believe local governments should have say in renewable energy facilities in their community.

MTA Q&A Renewable Energy Presentation

MTA Renewable Energy Media Statement

MTA statement by MTA Executive Director Neil Sheridan:

“Utility-scale renewable energy siting can be an incredibly contentious topic in communities across the state. But the answer is not to take away local governments and residents’ say about issues and decisions that have very real, lasting and potentially dramatic impacts for their community. Attempts to strip away local authority are becoming more and more common. No one knows a community—and its wants and needs—better than residents and the local officials they elect to represent and serve them. We understand the need, and the desire, for renewable energy. Many townships across the state are already home to renewable energy facilities—by their choice. We will work to ensure that communities and Michiganders keep their voice on these important local decisions.”