Update 04/25/2023: Bipartisan representatives in the Michigan House of Representatives introduced community-solar enabling legislation as well.
Michigan residents and businesses could lower their utility costs, strengthen the state’s energy grid, and participate in Michigan’s growing solar economy under bipartisan legislation introduced on March 7 by state Senators Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township). Senate Bills 152 and 153 would enable electrical customers to subscribe to 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.
“Solar energy brings a lot of economic and environmental benefits, but not everyone is able to build their own solar array,” Sen. Irwin said. “These bills give people, organizations and businesses the option to participate in affordable renewable energy generation in their own communities.”
“Michigan residents and businesses deserve to be able to choose where their electricity is guaranteed,” Sen. McBroom said. “These small-scale, local solar projects will be particularly useful to residents, providing an opportunity to independently produce energy for themselves and their neighbors, and providing savings on energy bills for those who subscribe.”
Community solar projects, limited to 5 MW, would allow anyone with space — homeowners, small businesses, government buildings, schools and churches — to install and share a solar facility with their members or neighbors. These arrays 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.
Recent mass outages have underscored the need to improve electrical reliability in Michigan. Community solar can help strengthen the grid. A new study highlights the magnitude of the economic cost of power outages in Michigan. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Michigan has worse reliability than the U.S. average, both in terms of hours of electric service interruption and the number of interruptions. Local solar can be part of the solution because the electricity is generated close to where it’s needed, powering homes and small businesses even during demand spikes and widespread outages.
“The Michigan Community Solar Alliance applauds Senators Irwin and McBroom for their introduction Senate Bills 152 and 153 — bipartisan legislation that would allow subscription-based community solar projects in the state,” said Carlo Cavallaro, Midwest Regional Director for Coalition for Community Solar Access. “The introduction of this legislation — especially as Michigan still recovers from the recent massive power outage — is an important step forward in the effort to expand the accessibility and availability of clean, affordable, reliable and renewable energy to all Michiganders. These bills also will allow Michigan to take advantage of billions of incentive dollars that are available for community solar programs through the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act.”
News item from the Office of Jeff Irwin