New laws will bring accountability for big utilities, help lower costs for ratepayers
DETROIT, Mich. – A nonpartisan coalition of organizations committed to tackling the climate crisis in Michigan today praised Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for signing bills to hold utilities accountable to achieving a 100% clean energy standard.
Michigan is positioned to lead nationally when it comes to advancing clean energy and energy efficiency with Whitmer signing the Clean Energy Future bill package (Senate Bills 271, 273 and 502) and bills to streamline the permitting process for renewable energy, like wind and solar, for farmers and local communities (House Bills 5120-5121).
“Up until today, Michigan’s big utilities have been prolonging the state’s dependence on dirty coal and gas,” said Dr. Denise Keele, Executive Director, Michigan Climate Action Network. “As we approach the climate boundaries of habitable life for humans, Gov. Whitmer’s bill signing represents a historic shift for Michigan in building out wind and solar across the state, and holding big utilities accountable to curtail dangerous pollution by achieving 60% renewable energy by 2035. I commend the lawmakers who championed the explicit inclusion of climate, health, equity, and affordability in utilities long-range plans for the first time.”
The new laws boost energy independence by creating a tenfold increase in access to rooftop solar and giving Michigan farmers greater ability to lease their land out for clean energy by cutting red tape to build out projects across Michigan, creating local jobs and generating tax revenue for local communities. The new laws also create some of the most robust energy efficiency standards in the country, helping to address affordability, health and safety for many low-income Michigan households.
“Michigan’s new laws will help improve public health by reducing dangerous pollution in our air and water,” said Dr. Elizabeth (Lisa) Del Buono, Executive Director, Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action. “Increasing our use of clean renewable energy also protects the Great Lakes. I want to thank the legislators who voted in favor of these bills and to Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her leadership.”
“This legislative package is not just about the environment and climate, there are major economic benefits for Michigan as well,” said Dr. Martin Kushler, Senior Fellow with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. “Michigan is almost entirely dependent upon imports from other states and countries for all of the fossil fuels we consume, which drains over $18 billion a year from the state economy. By increasing energy efficiency and Michigan-based renewable energy, this package of bills will reduce that financial drain and help keep those dollars here in Michigan.”
“These bills translate into better air, water, and health for everyone,” said Derrell Slaughter, Michigan Clean Energy Advocate at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “The pathbreaking standards for the Midwest industrial heartland will see the state move to 100% clean energy by 2040 and put more resources toward energy efficiency. Michigan has seized the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to combating climate change and ensure a sustainable, just, and prosperous future for our state.”
“Michigan’s new energy laws will bring more clean, renewable solar and wind power to our communities than any other state in the Midwest, promoting cleaner air and water for all Michiganders,” said Charles Griffith, Ecology Center Climate and Energy Director. “Not only will Michiganders breathe cleaner air and drink cleaner water, but workers building these new renewable resources will be protected by the highest labor standards of any climate legislation in the country, ensuring prevailing wages, project labor agreements, and explicit hiring and training requirements in underserved communities.”
“The signing of the Clean Energy Future Package into law is a major win for birds and wildlife across the state. Two-thirds of North American bird species are at-risk of extinction from climate change and Michigan species like the Black Tern are hanging on by a thread,” said Marnie Urso, Senior Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes. “Taking action, like Michigan did today, is the momentum we need to reach net-zero carbon emissions to protect birds and communities.”
The following groups also expressed support for the governor signing the bills: Evergreen Action, Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America - Michigan Chapter, Ceres, Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA), Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and League of Women Voters of Michigan.