Today the Michigan House passed the Clean Energy Future Package (Senate Bills 271, 273, 502, & 519). This legislation culminates years of work and months of grueling negotiations by a broad coalition. It is Michigan's most substantial effort to address climate change, improve air quality, and promote equity to date– putting it on the national stage with other leading progressive states. The legislation is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 82% from Michigan’s electricity sector and cumulatively avoid 364 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2040 compared to the status quo.
The passage of the Clean Energy Future Package is a significant step forward, moving us toward a cleaner, more equitable energy system and actualizing the Governor's MI Healthy Climate Plan. The bills increase the state's renewable energy standard from 15% to 50% by 2030, and to 100% clean energy by 2040. The bills increase the cap on distributed generation, giving more Michiganders the ability to invest in rooftop solar and storage. And these bills provide Michigan the ability to leverage billions of federal dollars through the Inflation Reduction Act.
The package strengthens energy waste reduction standards for gas and electric utilities and, for the first time, requires a minimum spending amount for low-income households. The legislation clears the way for some investments in building electrification and moving health and safety measures that prepare homes for weatherization and efficiency measures into full program offerings. Additionally, there are incentives for utilities to invest a significant portion of their residential energy waste reduction on building shell improvements such as air sealing and insulation, moving away from just replacing equipment.
Additionally, this legislation would also allow the Michigan Public Service Commission to consider health, equity, affordability, environmental justice, and climate in utility integrated resource plans, giving real weight to arguments that we have been making at the Commission for years. Finally, the legislation would create an Office of Just Transition to assist communities and workers potentially impacted by the energy transition. A group of companion bills (House Bills 5120-5121) also passed. These bills would streamline the permitting process for renewable energy, like wind and solar.
All of these provisions were hard-fought and worth celebrating. But more than one thing can be true at the same time. We still have a long way to go. The final versions of these bills are not as strong as we hoped and fought for; but they were the best we could achieve in this legislative session, given pressure from utilities and big industry, who still hold far too much influence over the legislature. We have a lot more work to do to hold utilities accountable and to achieve a truly clean and equitable energy future.
There were some disappointing losses in the bill package. We were not able to get provisions to expand community solar, and further legislation is needed to specifically address that issue. One particularly disappointing loss was the failure to strike the inclusion of the Grand Rapids trash incinerator from its current category as a renewable energy resource. The Ecology Center has been a leader in the fight against trash incineration as a waste management strategy and stands with its Environmental Justice partners in declaring that burning trash is not equitable, clean energy. Additionally, the broad definition of clean energy opens the door to unproven and expensive technologies that do not adequately address the environmental harms that burden our environmental justice communities.
The Ecology Center is committed to continuing this fight, both in the legislature and at the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), to improve upon the legislation's shortcomings and to ensure that its implementation prevents some of the problematic provisions from coming to fruition.
We thank you for your support and ask that you thank your legislators who voted in favor of this critical legislation. We will keep fighting to support equitable, affordable, clean energy for all Michiganders.