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Senate bill package expands Michigan’s green energy giveaway

Senate Bills 302 and 303 would allow local governments to finance enviromental hazard projects on individual properties

The Michigan Senate last week passed a bill to expand the range of green projects that could be funded under the 2010 Property-Assessed Clean Energy Act, or PACE Act.

Sen. Kristen McDonald-Rivet, D-Bay City, on April 27 introduced Senate Bill 303. The bill is tie-barred with Senate Bill 302, meaning that both bills must be signed into law to be enacted.

According to the Senate Fiscal Agency analysis, “the bills would expand the scope of the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act to allow a local unit of government to contract and finance for an environmental hazard project and allow it to do so with more properties in its jurisdiction.”

Read it for yourself: Senate Bill 303 of 2023

Senate Bill 302 of 2023

The current PACE program only allows for government loans to promote “energy efficiency improvement[s]” and “energy projects.” Under the current program, homeowners can use government money to improve or to add a green energy system for their houses or businesses.

The Senate package would increase the scope of this legislation to cover environmental hazard projects as well. The bill specifies that these projects must meet at least one of four qualifications:

  1. Mitigate lead, heavy metal, or PFAS contamination in potable water systems,
  2. Mitigate the effects of floods or drought,
  3. Increase the resistance of property against severe weather, or
  4. Mitigate lead paint contamination.

The bill states that “improved public health” and “protection against climate hazards” would be accepted as justification for these government-sponsored loans.

Both SB 302 and SB 303 were approved by identical 24-14 votes of the Senate on May 24, records show. Both were referred to the House Energy Committee.

The Mackinac Center opposes not only this proposition, but the PACE program itself.

Extending the governmental reach of these subsidies would not make this program any more desirable, for two primary reasons. The first issue is that the current law only allows for “the acquisition, installation, or improvement of a renewable energy system or anaerobic digester energy system installation.” This new proposal, however, would remove the word “improvement” and include the word “replacement.” This would let homeowners continue to take out these loans, with fewer restrictions, for an unlisted amount of home renovations and in support of green energy.

Expanding a government-funded program that already supports the most heavily subsidized form of energy to further encourage its use is not a step Michigan should take.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation published a report that noted wind and solar energy have received 17 and 75 times more subsidies than their fossil fuel and nuclear competitors over the last 10 years.

This sort of assistance warps energy markets by promoting energy that requires taxpayer dollars to compete.

Ewan Hayes is a Michigan Capitol Confidential intern.

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.