Michigan residents and communities would be able to participate in Michigan’s growing solar economy under bipartisan legislation introduced today by state representatives Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton) and Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids).

House Bills 4715-16 would remove existing policy restrictions in Michigan to allow for the development of small-scale community solar projects that would enable greater access to solar, lower utility bills, and create jobs and economic development across the state. Under the legislation, residents could subscribe to a portion of a community solar project and receive credit on their electricity bill for the power produced, just as if the panels were on their own roof.

“Expanding solar energy in Michigan will strengthen our energy grid and boost our economy, without raising taxes. This plan saves businesses and Michigan residents money while creating jobs and more customer choice.”

- Representative Michele Hoitenga

Currently, more than 50 percent of Michiganders cannot access solar energy due to financial barriers, roof limitations or property ownership. Community solar projects allow renters, low- and moderate-income residents, small businesses, government buildings, schools, and churches to share a solar facility with their members and neighbors.

“Renewable energy should be accessible and available to everyone,” said representative Rachel Hood. “This legislation will allow more people to benefit from solar energy, providing the opportunity to accelerate the use of solar in Michigan, and permitting us to create the distributed energy infrastructure that the 21st century requires.”

The program provides all Michigan residents and businesses with the ability to subscribe to solar energy from a specific community solar project. Community solar projects – which under to the legislation would be limited to five MW – are usually built on small parcels of underutilized farmland, but can also be built on large commercial rooftops, parking lots, brownfields, or reclaimed mining lands.

Under the legislation, all projects would be locally permitted, and municipalities would be provided with increased property tax revenues, in addition to the direct and indirect economic benefits that will trickle down during construction. In many cases, community solar would help generate tax revenue on properties that are currently adding marginal value to the community.

Many groups across Michigan came out today in support of the community solar legislation passed by Reps Hoitenga and Hood including Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Michigan Air Michigan Health, Michigan Asthma & Allergy Foundation, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, and Coalition for Community Solar Access.

“The legislation introduced today would create the opportunity for all energy customers to save money on their energy bills and it would bring desperately needed investment, tax revenue and jobs into communities across the state that are struggling, said Jim Murray, midwest regional director for Coalition for Community Solar Access, a national coalition of businesses and nonprofits working to expand community solar. “Community solar is a win-win for Michigan, and we appreciate Reps. Hoitenga and Hood spearheading this important bipartisan issue.”

“It’s rare these days to find an issue that is truly bipartisan and is a win-win for everyone,” Hoitenga continued. “Community solar is one of those rare issues and I’m proud to be working across the aisle on this important issue for our residents.”

HBs 4715-16 will be referred to the House Energy Committee.