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Senate Dems Move 100% Clean Date to 2040 in New Proposal

September 19, 2023

Senate Democrats are changing their “Clean Energy Future Plan” to have utilities develop a “100% clean energy standard” by 2040 instead of the 2035 deadline that was originally proposed.

“Utilities would have to file clean energy plans in order to achieve a carbon-free energy portfolio of 80% starting in 2035, and by 100% in 2040,” said Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) at Thursday’s crowded Senate Energy and Environment Committee meeting, where she illustrated how her SB 271 will be modified within the next week.

During Thursday afternoon’s meeting, Geiss and Sen. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) presented updates on SB 271 and SB 273, two major bills in the caucus’ “Clean Energy Future Plan” that aligned with the energy ambitions in the governor’s “What’s Next?” address. However, instead of obligating utility providers to show progress toward shutting down all coal-fired plants by 2030 and achieving a 100% clean energy standard by 2035, the substitutes previewed by Singh and Geiss offer some new timelines.

Instead of completely deleting biomass as a source of renewable energy a utility provider could use, SB 271would allow for commercial biomass operations taking place by the legislation’s effective date to be grandfathered in.

Furthermore, utility companies must construct, contract or acquire a total of 2,500 megawatts of energy storage systems by 2030 under what will be the newest version of SB 271. The Michigan Public Service Commission would be responsible for studying and implementing a community solar reach tariff pilot program as well, zooming in on low-income communities and households.

SB 273 initially mandated an electric provider to achieve a yearly energy waste reduction standard of 2% in its energy waste reduction plan. Singh said that based on feedback from stakeholders, the new target will be 1.5% with an incentive goal of 2%.

“They will have to show that they can make the 2%. If they can’t, then they have to show why they can’t make that 2%,” he said. “The 1.5% would be the new standard.”

He added that the present-day .75% natural gas target would be boosted to 1%, with the state providing financial incentives for electric providers to meet the new key provisions.

Thursday’s revisions come as opponents continue to criticize its possible impact on energy costs. In the morning, House Republicans relayed a study on California, where state statute is pursuing carbon-free electricity by 2045 that from January 2022 to January 2023, the average household’s monthly bill climbed from $161 to $180 in the state’s Pacific region, from $191 to $225 in southern California and from $148 to $171 in the San Diego area.

The Senate Energy and Environment Committee voted solely on SB 277 Thursday, permitting farmers participating in Michigan’s farmland preservation program to rent land to commercial solar projects in exchange for going without the program’s tax incentives while energy operations take place.

The sponsor of SB 277, Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City), described her legislation as probably the least complicated bill in Senate Democrats’ clean energy package that was targeted in a press conference Thursday hosted by House Republicans. It acquired Republican support from Sen. Roger Hauck (R-Union Twp.) while the committee’s minority vice chair, Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway) abstained from voting.

“Essentially, what we’re doing is allowing farmers to execute on their rights to their property to be able to put solar equipment on the farmland and still be allowed to protect the P.A. 116 program,” McDonald Rivet said before her legislation was approved 10-3, referencing the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s program to keep open space and farmland from being grasped by non-agricultural developments.

She said there are more than 42,000 actively protected lands in the program, contributing to a total of 3.1 million acres and making up .1% of Michigan’s farmland.

Under SB 277, a solar facility must be decommissioned in time for normal agricultural operations for the following growing season after the deferment period – where farmers were not claiming P.A. 116 tax credits – has concluded.

“At the end of the day, for me, this comes down to personal property rights, as a farmer has the option to host solar without having to withdraw from the P.A. 116 agreement. This optional program preserves agricultural land for future use as intended while allowing farm owners to diversify their revenue sources,” she said.

Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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