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Legislative Update: Democrats Pushing Accelerated Renewable / Clean Energy Plan

Democrats are pushing legislation that would create a clean energy standard, make changes to the energy waste reduction act, and require the MPSC to weigh certain criteria when regulating utilities (SBs 271, 272, and 502). The Legislation (SB 271) for a state clean energy standard includes a requirement for a 50 percent renewable energy standard (wind and solar) by 2034, and the clean energy standard is 80% by 2035 and 100 percent by 2040.

Democrats and environmental groups argue that these changes will help transition to a cleaner, renewable energy future and combat climate change, while Republicans and the business community criticize the move, asserting it will result in higher utility bills and reduced grid reliability. The bills are the first overhaul of the state's energy policy since 2016 and represent the Democrats attempt to balance the interests of environmental organizations, utilities, organized labor, and the environmental justice community.

Additionally, Democrats are contemplating green energy siting bills that shift siting decisions from local units of government and move them to the Public Service Commission. This legislation would likely lead to more commercial scale renewable projects being cited as several large wind and solar proposed projects have had a difficult time earning local support.

Polluter Pay Bills Introduced

Both chambers saw matching packages of bills that would require greater liability of organizations to cover the costs of clean-ups - often referred to as “polluter pay”. Under the bills, businesses that do work in potentially polluting industries may have to put dollars up-front to cover the risk of future clean-up costs. The bills also allow the state to pursue clean-up costs on behalf of the public, allows EGLE to set clean-up criteria beyond federal standards, and requires polluting entities to fully clean sites rather than block them off. The bills are widely supported by the environmental community and advocates. The manufacturing community has deep concerns and has historically managed to defeat similar bills.

Industry 4.0 And Other Funding

Legislative Departments are starting to work on their ideal proposed budgets ahead of next spring’s budget negotiations. Funding for key programs like the Going PRO Talent Fund and Industry 4.0 will be at the forefront of those conversations, but the state is likely to see less revenue as the federal COVID dollars are spent and tax revenue may sag due to inflation and the on-going labor strikes.


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