Bills to Empower Michiganders to Produce Clean Energy

Bipartisan legislation removes regulatory barriers
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

LANSING — State Reps. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), Steve Johnson (R-Wayland), Gary Glenn (R-Williams Township), and Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) introduced a bipartisan package of bills today to remove regulatory barriers to renewable energy production for homeowners, businesses, farms, and other energy users. The Energy Freedom Legislation, House Bills 5861-5865, would create sensible policies for net metering, fair value pricing, microgrids, and investment in community energy co-operatives, removing red tape that currently makes it difficult for ordinary people to generate their own energy.

“Renewable energy is crucial for Michigan’s future,” Rep. Rabhi said. “It keeps our air and water clean, it provides distributed generation capacity, and it fuels our economy through job creation and lower energy bills. The Energy Freedom bills would remove barriers to renewable energy production for homeowners, business owners, and nonprofits across the state.”

“In rural areas like the Western U.P., it makes more sense to produce energy near where it will be used,” Rep. Dianda said. “We should encourage people to power their homes and businesses using the U.P.’s rich renewable energy resources, which include mine-based geothermal heat, woody biomass, and solar. My bill will help strengthen our energy infrastructure and provide much-needed jobs by ensuring energy producers get a fair price.”

“Current law places an arbitrary cap on the total amount of customers who can ‘net meter,’ which means they invest in their own system to offset some of their energy consumption. Typically, this is done through a rooftop solar panel or some other similar system,” Rep. Barrett said. “We are quickly outgrowing the arbitrary limit to net metering, and my House Bill 5864 would remove that cap so more Michiganders can become energy producers if they decide to. This would especially benefit rural areas, enabling farmers to offset their utility costs with their own small-scale solar systems or waste to energy bio-digesters.”

“Everyone should have the opportunity to save money on energy bills through renewable energy, not just people who can set up generation on their own land,” Rep. Glenn said. “My community energy gardens bill would enable families and businesses to share the up-front costs and long-term benefits of producing renewable energy, keeping more of our energy dollars here in Michigan.”

House Bill 5861, the community renewable energy gardens bill, creates a framework to allow families and businesses to subscribe to a renewable energy system and receive a monthly credit on their electric bills. While other states have enacted similar policies focusing on solar, this bill provides broad opportunities to invest in any renewable energy source.

“We have a lot of power outages in Michigan. Under current law, grid-connected customers who generate their own energy are unnecessarily forced to go dark during utility outages,” Rep. Johnson said. “My House Bill 5865 would set up interconnection standards to enable microgrids to operate as ‘islands’ cut off from the grid during outages, so that hospitals, shelters, and other critical facilities can continue to operate with renewable power.”

Two of the bills, House Bills 5862 and 5863, create a framework for pricing power generated by consumers and put back onto the grid. “Fair Value Pricing” is a market-based method that takes into account the varying value of energy generated at different times and locations, as well as the costs associated with connecting to and maintaining the distribution and transmission grids.

To read more about the Energy Freedom bill package, click here.

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