Michigan residents and communities would be able to participate in Michigan’s growing solar economy under bipartisan legislation introduced today by state Reps. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) and Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton).


Together, House Bills 4715 and 4716 would remove existing restrictions to allow for the development of small-scale community solar projects while enabling greater access to solar energy, lowering utility bills, and creating jobs and economic growth across the state. Currently, more than 50 percent of Michiganders cannot access solar energy due to financial barriers, roof limitations or property ownership. Community solar projects allow renters, residents with low and moderate incomes, small businesses, government buildings, schools, and places of worship to share a solar facility with their members and neighbors.


“Renewable energy should be accessible and available to everyone,” said Hood. “This legislation will allow more people to benefit from solar energy, providing the opportunity to accelerate the use of solar in Michigan and permitting us to create the distributed energy infrastructure that the 21st century requires.”


Under the legislation, residents could subscribe to a portion of a community solar project and receive credit on their electricity bill for the power produced, just as if the panels were on their own roof. Community solar projects – which under this legislation would be limited to 5 megawatts – are usually built on small parcels of underutilized farmland, but can also be built on large commercial rooftops, parking lots, brownfields or reclaimed mining lands.


“Expanding solar energy in Michigan will strengthen our energy grid and boost our economy, without raising taxes,” said Hoitenga. “This plan saves businesses and Michigan residents money, while creating jobs and more customer choice.”


Under the legislation, all projects would be locally permitted, and municipalities would be provided with increased property tax revenues, in addition to the direct and indirect economic benefits that will trickle down during construction. In many cases, community solar would help generate tax revenue on properties that are currently adding marginal value to the community.


“It’s rare these days to find an issue that is truly bipartisan and is a win-win for everyone,” Hoitenga continued. “Community solar is one of those rare issues and I’m proud to be working across the aisle on this important issue for our residents.”


House Bills 4715 and 4716 were referred to the House Energy Committee for further consideration.