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State representatives, advocates discuss community energy production

State representatives, advocates discuss community energy production

HB 4236 would remove the cap on renewable energy produced by Michiganders

State representatives Greg Markkanen (R-110, Marquette), Rachel Hood (D-76, Grand Rapids), and Padma Kuppa (D-41, Troy) joined environmental advocates Tuesday in an online town hall discussion of the use of renewable energy in Michigan moderated by Eric Ini, Environmental Justice Director at Michigan United. Currently, Rep. Markkanen sponsors HB 4236 which would eliminate a 1% cap on distributed generation, allowing more consumers to generate their own electricity and feed the excess energy back into the grid for their neighbors to use.

“Homeowners and citizens of Michigan should have the right to control their energy needs by utilizing rooftop solar and community solar,” said Rep. Markkanen. “Michigan needs to do what surrounding states have done and remove the cap.”

One such homeowner is Steve Prange, an engineer and solar power advocate from Commerce Township. “My wife and I enjoy the many days we are ‘off the grid’. “ In fact, the couple was still able to use appliances normally during a recent storm that interrupted electricity from DTE. “We are glad we supported a local renewable energy business and are reducing our impact on the environment,” said Prange as he showed graphs of his solar panels sending out electricity after they had fully charged the battery that powered his house overnight. “We expect the financial payback to be between 9-12 years. We would like other people in Michigan to have the same opportunity we have had. This is why HB4236 should be passed to remove the 1% cap.”

“My colleagues and I are working on a whole-sale climate resilience agenda for Michigan, accompanied with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in infrastructure,” said Rep. Rachel Hood. “We stand at a pivotal moment when we can choose to deliver an inheritance of freshwater, resilient infrastructure, and a climate haven in the midst of a changed world. Or we can proceed with the status quo. Honestly, we don’t have a choice.”

“We want people to have the freedom to install solar clean energy and be connected to the grid,” said Rep. Kuppa, a co-sponsor of HB4236. “By removing the cap, more people can install solar to save money and support a cleaner environment as well as create thousands of clean and good-paying energy jobs.”

“Climate change is real. Storms of the century are happening more frequently,” said Nayyiriah Shariff, Director of Flint Rising. “Removing the 1% cap is critical for making our communities more climate-resilient. This will create self-sufficiency in our communities.”

Michigan United encourages residents to call Rep. Joseph Bellino at (517) 373-1530 and urge him to call for the House Energy Committee that he chairs to vote on the Community Energy Production Bill.

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