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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Powering Michigan Forward energy legislation could supply customers with expanded choices


By Sarah Downey | Nov 8, 2019


State lawmakers are reconsidering bipartisan legislation that would provide consumers with more choice in their electricity sources.

The Powering Michigan Forward package would address issues like solar energy regulations with an aim toward promoting renewable energy investment. The legislation, which was introduced in late October, has been referred to the House Energy Committee.

Solar industry advocates are in favor of the legislation while utility companies are expected to oppose it.

Michigan House Rep. Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe) | Michigan House Republicans

“As chairman of the House Energy Committee, I want to pursue legislation that continues to provide Michigan residents with reliable and affordable energy,” Michigan House Rep. Joseph Bellino (R-Monroe), said in an email response to Downriver Today.

“Reps. (Gregory) Markkanen and (Yousef) Rabhi re-introduced legislation from last term that has been labeled as 'energy freedom' legislation,” Bellino said. “My office has been looking over the bills and will keep the sponsors informed as we move forward in committee.”

In addition to Markkanen (R-Hancock) and Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), bill sponsors include Sens. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte).

“The Powering Michigan Forward package gives residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula energy freedom by raising the cap and supports jobs in our communities, helping our district’s economy continue its forward momentum,” Markkanen said in a story posted on WILX. “This package will give residential, commercial and industrial customers access to clean, affordable energy options.”

Laura Sherman, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, which supports the bills, told Crain’s Detroit Business that the bill is "a jobs package." 

"Right now the solar industry is growing 2.5 times faster than any industry in Michigan," Sherman said. "It is booming, but (the industry) will hit the legislative cap for distributed solar in one to two years. We will run out of space in that program. When that happens, everything will shut down, costing 400 jobs." 

Another element of the energy freedom package was introduced in September by State Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R-Wexford) that would provide for community renewable energy generation systems. Seven Republicans and 10 Democrats are co-sponsors.

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