Package increases affordability, accessibility, efficiency illustrating commitment to environmental justice
LANSING, Mich., June 14, 2023 — A group of Democratic lawmakers and environmental partners debuted legislation today that sets a bold vision for Michigan’s energy future. The bills build on the MI Healthy Climate Plan that the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy released last year and set achievable goals for growing our economy, powering our communities and protecting our environment.
“Recent extreme weather, air quality degraded by wildfires and record-high temperatures make it blatantly clear that we need to act now to preserve our environment and update our energy grid,” said Speaker Pro Tem Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), who sponsored a bill in the package. “The changes we’re proposing to state law are intrepid, achievable and beneficial to the people of Michigan.”
“Fighting for environmental justice has been one of my top priorities as a legislator, which is why I’m proud to sponsor a bill in this package,” said Majority Floor Leader Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck), a bill sponsor. “Low-income communities and communities of color have borne the brunt of dirty energy for far too long. We’re putting marginalized communities front and center with this legislation.”
The three bills focus on increasing renewable energy and decarbonizing the energy grid; empowering utility regulators to hear and respond to the concerns of underserved communities; and improving and expanding on the success of Michigan’s energy efficiency standards.
“For my district, home of former Gov. Bill Milliken, protecting our environment means protecting our way of life and our economy. This legislation takes all of these factors into account,” said state Rep. Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City), a bill sponsor. “Our bills will create jobs, preserve our natural resources, and set Michigan on a path to a cleaner, more reliable energy grid.”
“Getting more renewable and carbon-free energy from our utilities is a big piece of the environmental protection puzzle, but it’s not the only piece. These bills factor in distributed generation, which increases renewable energy access for individuals, communities and businesses,” said state Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), who previously introduced bills to create guidelines for community solar projects. “The more widely available clean energy is, the sooner we can reach the goals set forth in this plan.”
The legislation features the input and support of Michigan’s environmental groups.
“Michigan has a legacy of innovation and leadership. We must act now to combat climate change and achieve a sustainable and prosperous future for our state,” said Derrell Slaughter, Michigan clean energy advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “If the Michigan Legislature acts swiftly and decisively on climate and clean energy legislation, we can seize the opportunity of a growing economic sector while achieving a healthier future for our communities.”
“We have a moment like never before here in Michigan to invest in our people, protect our air and water, create clean energy jobs, and join the fight to tackle climate change,” said Nick Occhipinti, government affairs director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Clean air, reliable energy, creating good-paying jobs and our clean economic future right here in Michigan — those are kitchen table issues. Michiganders across the state are demanding action on climate change. We stand with lawmakers in moving Michigan toward 100% clean energy.”
“Climate change intersects with key challenges facing Michigan. The bill package introduced today comes at a critical juncture as communities across the state grapple with real impacts of climate change, an unreliable grid, and unaffordable energy costs,” said Tim Minotas, deputy legislative and political director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Now is the time to lead with climate solutions so that we build a stronger, more prosperous, and equitable future for Michiganders.”
The bills in the package are:
- HB 4759 (Coffia) establishes a renewable portfolio standard of 60% by 2030 and a target of 100% carbon-free energy by 2035. Utilities must include distributed generation programs accessible to low-income communities and communities of color.
- HB 4760 (Pohutsky) allows the Michigan Public Service Commission to consider climate factors, affordability and equity in its decision-making, and require utilities to abide by those decisions.
- HB 4761 (Aiyash) updates and expands the energy waste reduction standards for utilities; updates the timeline for meeting standards and measuring cost savings; and prioritizing low-income communities to benefit from energy efficiency programming.