News Story

Board approves language for ballot effort restoring local control of solar siting

Appointees of the governor can override local will, per Public Act 233 of 2023

A ballot effort to restore local control in the zoning of large wind and solar projects took a step toward the November ballot last week, when the Board of State Canvassers approved its ballot language.

The 94-word proposal, submitted by Citizens for Local Choice, reads:

A proposed initiated law to allow local units of government to retain authority to regulate the development of solar, wind, or energy storage facilities in their jurisdictions by repealing laws that mandate statewide standards for energy facilities and permit the Michigan Public Service Commission to override local energy facility development decisions. If enacted, this proposal will allow local units of government to continue to determine their own standards regarding setback distance, structure height, and the amount of light and sound emitted by energy facilities, and to exercise final authority over the construction of energy facilities within their jurisdictions.

The board approved the language in a 4-0 vote.

The law would amend provisions of Public Act 233 of 2023 that give the Michigan Public Service Commission, a three-member board appointed by the governor, final say in wind and solar zoning decisions.

Related reading: Ballot effort seeks to restore local control of wind, solar zoning

Under the law as passed, if local officials reject a wind farm, and appointees of the governor approve it, the project will move forward. That would change if the ballot effort succeeds. Locals would again have the final say, and Lansing would have no say.

What will follow is a signature collection effort. While 356,958 valid signatures from registered voters are needed to make the November ballot, Citizens for Local Choice wants 550,000 signatures, just to be sure.

Kevon Martis, one of the leaders of the effort, estimates the effort will take between $7 million and $10 million, with at least half going toward signature collection.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.