Residents concerned about proposed oversight for solar facilities
HomeHome > Blog > Residents concerned about proposed oversight for solar facilities

Residents concerned about proposed oversight for solar facilities

Jul 20, 2023

DECATUR TWP., Mich. — A legislative priority laid out by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during an event on Wednesday is receiving criticism from local communities.

During the "What’s Next" address, Whitmer called on state lawmakers to pass a law by the end of the year that allows the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to approve wind and solar energy facilities.

She did not add any other details.

“People are stepping up and saying, ’No, we don’t want this here,’ and now they’re trying to strip that power,” said Jason West, who lives in Decatur Township.

The responsibility currently lies with local governments, but it has become difficult over the past few years for developers to get their plans approved, largely due to pushback from residents.

For example, earlier this month during a special election, people in Decatur Township, including West, voted against an ordinance that needed to pass in order for a company to build a solar energy facility.

West thinks that if lawmakers bring forth legislation that changes the permit process, it would deprive communities of what they want in them.

“She’s [Whitmer] trying to override what the people want to do in their own townships, sitting halfway across the state from us, not knowing what we have going on,” said West.

The Michigan Township Association (MTA) echoed those concerns in a statement.

“Utility-scale renewable energy siting can be an incredibly contentious topic in communities across the state,” wrote Judy Allen, MTA director of government relations. “But the answer is not to take away local governments and residents’ say about issues and decisions that have very real, lasting, and potentially dramatic impacts for their community.”

She added, “No one knows a community and its wants and needs better than residents and the local officials they elect to represent and serve them. We understand the need, and the desire, for renewable energy. Many townships across the state are already home to renewable energy facilities by their choice. We will work to ensure that communities and Michiganders keep their voice on these important local decisions.”

In an interview with FOX 17, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist disagreed that shifting the decision to MPSC takes control from communities.

“Local voices always come first,” said Gilchrist.

Gilchrist hopes any law proposed helps the state achieve its goals.

“We’re looking forward to making sure that government is appropriately equipped to be a partner with local governments, a partner with the private sector, and a partner with the citizens we all serve, to ensure that we can reach the goals that I think we should all have, which are to make Michigan be protected,” said Gilchrist.

Follow FOX 17: Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - YouTube