Renewable Energy Wins for Now in Michigan as Local Control Measure Fails to Make Ballot

A 2023 Michigan law reduces local governments’ authority to block wind and solar projects, but the measure has been in limbo because of the possibility that opponents of development would obtain enough signatures to force a repeal vote.  This period of uncertainty has now ended following an announcement that the campaign for the referendum failed to qualify for the November ballot.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Democrat who signed the law in November, now has at least two years to demonstrate to voters that her approach is the right one.  States are motivated to pass these laws because they will likely be unable to meet their requirements for a shift to renewable energy if county governments ban or severely restrict development.

The law gives local governments several options for how to handle large wind and solar projects proposed in their jurisdictions. One option is to let the Michigan Public Service Commission handle the review and approval. Another option is for the local government to pass a “compatible renewable energy ordinance,” which would set rules for development but also is barred by state law from being overly restrictive or banning development. A third option is for local governments to retain their current rules, but developers now have the ability to declare those rules unworkable and take their proposal to the state commission.

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