Bills now head to governor’s desk, will establish clean and renewable energy standards, increase energy efficiency and improve renewable energy oversight   

LANSING, Mich. (Nov. 8, 2023) — Today, the Michigan Senate Democrats finalized their Clean Energy Future plan, Senate Bills 271, 273, 277, 502 and 519 sponsored by Sens. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), Sam Singh (D-East Lansing), Sue Shink (D-Northfield Twp.) and Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City). The bills set long-awaited clean energy and renewable energy standards, increase energy efficiency targets, expand the role of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), and create a new Community and Worker Economic Transition Office. 

SB 271 establishes a 100% clean energy standard by 2040, an 80% clean energy standard by 2035, and a renewable standard of 50% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 — ambitious but achievable targets. 

“This legislation marks bold action to combat the climate crisis, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and end our reliance on fossil fuels as we transition to clean and renewable energy sources,” said Sen. Geiss. “The #MajorityForThePeople is demonstrating our commitment to a healthier environment, economic vitality and improving people’s communities, lives and quality of life.” 

SB 273 focuses on enhancing energy waste reduction (EWR) efforts. It requires electric utilities to achieve a minimum of 1.5% annual electric energy efficiency savings, with an additional incentive goal of 2% and over. The bill also sets the natural gas EWR target to 0.875% beginning in 2026 and provides for financial incentives for exceeding that target up to 1.25%. The bill also creates a low-income EWR program to ensure Michigan residents with low incomes or living in multi-family properties have equal access to energy efficiency programs. 

The Community and Worker Economic Transition Office created by SB 519 will assist workers and communities during the state’s renewable energy transition, supporting job growth and helping the state’s economy evolve. It will be housed within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. 

“These bills represent significant progress in ensuring more affordable, reliable and sustainable energy in Michigan, creating job opportunities and supporting our workers in the transition to clean energy production in the process,” said Sen. Singh. “I am grateful to my colleagues and all of the stakeholders who have worked for years on this issue and shared my commitment to seeing these bills through.” 

SB 502 would require the MPSC in its Integrated Resource Planning process to add affordability and overall cost-effectiveness to its consideration as well as require utilities to meet clean energy standards. The bill adds an expanded advisory role for EGLE to include environmental justice and health impacts. Additionally, the bill emphasizes the importance of public input and representation for utility customers, ensuring their interests are adequately addressed. 

“This legislation represents Senate Democrats’ dedication to creating a sustainable, clean future for Michigan — a future where addressing residents’ real needs is the priority. Economic growth goes hand in hand with environmental stewardship — we can do both,” said Sen. Shink. “With our actions today, we are making concrete progress toward a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.” 

SB 277 would encode into state law a successful program that allows farmers to lease some of their land for solar operations if they choose. It would maintain preservation of farmland enrolled in the PA 116 agricultural conservation easement program, while allowing for new revenue from solar leases and helping preserve it for future generations. The bill also requires the developer to ensure the land would be maintained and returned to agricultural use at the end of the solar lease. 

“This practical policy is pro-farm, pro-environment and — most importantly — it respects owners’ property rights. Farm owners needing solar as an income source should have that option without being forced to lose their heritage farmland status,” said Sen. McDonald Rivet. “For many, the additional revenue from solar makes it financially possible to keep that land in their families now and for generations to come.”

Earlier today, the Michigan Senate also passed legislation complementary to the Clean Energy Future plan that will simplify the approval process for building large-scale renewable energy projects. The legislation also protects personal property rights and public input and local oversight on these wind and solar projects. 

“For years, our constituents have called for decisive action to address climate change —concerns that have gone unaddressed until this year,” said Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo), Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee. “These bills are an essential component to pursuing and achieving a clean energy future in Michigan, diversifying our economy, supporting workers, farmers and consumers, and making Michigan a national leader on clean energy — all while enhancing personal property rights for landowners who want the freedom to decide what to do with their land while upholding public and community input and authority.”