Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer enacted one of the country’s most aggressive state-level green energy mandates on Tuesday.
Whitmer signed legislation to put Michigan on the path to 100% green energy generation by 2040. The Clean Energy and Jobs Act commits the state to achieving 100% green energy generation by 2040 and includes legislation that enables the state’s utility regulator to supersede local governments to site green energy infrastructure.
“In order to meet this mandate of 100% green energy, the only way the Whitmer administration can do it is by taking away local control of land,” Matt Hall, a Republican serving in Michigan’s House of Representatives and the minority leader, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “These local governments are closest to the people and are trying to protect the character of their communities.”
In his quote, Hall references one of the thornier aspects of the legislation: it permits the state’s utility regulator, chaired by the governor’s appointees, to overrule local governments when approving wind and solar projects, according to MLive. Michigan currently has about 17,000 acres of land in use for wind and solar, but the state may ultimately need up to 209,000 more acres to reach its green energy goals, according to The Detroit News.
The legislation requires Michigan utilities to source 60% of power from strictly green technologies, such as solar panels and wind turbines, by the 2040 target date, with the remaining 40% generated by nuclear, hydrogen or natural gas that uses carbon capture equipment, according to NBC News.
The package, which includes several bills, went through several changes in the state Legislature before ending up on Whitmer’s desk. Republicans uniformly voted against the package in every vote held, but the Democrats’ slim majority in both chambers was enough to get them through.
“This is a dark day for hardworking Michigan families, farmers, and small business owners,” state Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt, a Republican, said of the signing. “While the people of Michigan are still struggling with higher costs, Lansing Democrats are applauding the imposition of far-left, unworkable energy mandates that will further increase energy costs and make Michigan energy less reliable.”
Whitmer asserted that the new laws will save Michiganders an average of $145 each year on their utility bills during a Tuesday speech in Detroit commemorating the signing. However, citizens “can expect to pay an additional $2,746 in energy costs each year just to experience more blackouts” with the package in place, according to analysis conducted by the Mackinac Center, a pro-free market think tank that analyzes Michigan state policy.
“The Democrats talked a big game, but when it came down to it, they handed the pen to the utilities and allowed the utilities to write this legislation,” Hall told the DCNF. “The utilities lock in the profits, and then pass all the costs to the ratepayers.”
The policies will prompt “major utility bill increases for manufacturers, small business owners and homeowners” in the state, Hall told the DCNF.
Michigan had about 711,000 manufacturing jobs and more than 12,000 manufacturing companies driving business in the state as of June 2022, according to data from IndustrySelect. Whitmer claimed that the laws will lead to the creation of 160,000 jobs in the state by 2040 during her speech in Detroit.
Whitmer’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
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