Legislation Removes Barriers Preventing Homeowners, Small Businesses From Benefiting From Local Solar Projects
LANSING, Mich. (March 7, 2023) — Michigan residents and businesses could lower their utility costs, strengthen the state’s energy grid, and participate in Michigan’s growing solar economy under bipartisan legislation introduced today by state Senators Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township). Senate Bills 152 and 153 would enable electrical customers to subscribe to a community solar project and receive credit on their electricity bill for the power produced, just as if the panels were on their own roof.
“Solar energy brings a lot of economic and environmental benefits, but not everyone is able to build their own solar array,” Sen. Irwin said. “These bills give people, organizations, and businesses the option to participate in affordable renewable energy generation in their own communities.”
“Michigan residents and businesses deserve to be able to choose where their electricity is guaranteed,” Sen. McBroom said. “These small-scale, local solar projects will be particularly useful to residents, providing an opportunity to independently produce energy for themselves and their neighbors, and providing savings on energy bills for those who subscribe.”
Irwin and McBroom are working together to allow residents to tap into local solar arrays to help homeowners, renters, and small businesses to lower their monthly electricity bills. From 2020-22, the average monthly residential electricity bill in Michigan increased by more than 15 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Some Michiganians can lower their energy bills by putting up their own solar panels, but more than 50 percent of households cannot access solar energy due to financial barriers, roof limitations or property ownership. Under this legislation, they could subscribe to community solar projects instead.
Community solar projects, limited to 5 megawatts, would allow anyone with space—homeowners, small businesses, government buildings, schools, and churches—to install and share a solar facility with their members or neighbors. These arrays are usually built on small parcels of underutilized farmland, but can also be built on large commercial rooftops, parking lots, brownfields, or reclaimed mining lands.
Recent mass outages have underscored the need to improve electrical reliability in Michigan. Community solar can help strengthen the grid. A new study highlights the magnitude of the economic cost of power outages in Michigan. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Michigan has worse reliability than the U.S. average, both in terms of hours of electric service interruption and the number of interruptions. Local solar can be part of the solution because the electricity is generated close to where it’s needed, powering homes and small businesses even during demand spikes and widespread outages.