Act Now! Senate Committee Adopts Language Eroding Progress on Renewable Siting Legislation

Posted on November 8, 2023 by John LaMacchia

After passing the House late last week in an early morning Friday session, swift action continued in the Senate yesterday on HB 5120 and 5121. Testimony was heard from the bill sponsors and leading stakeholders in Senate Energy and Environment Committee.  Changes that were made prior to passage, and explained as technical in nature, drastically altered the gains that cities and villages made in the House passed version to protect local control.  We are asking League members to quickly engage their Senators in opposition ahead of the anticipated full chamber vote today (11/8).

Language passed by the committee without context or discussion revised a key change achieved in the House that would have been a step forward in integrating local control for cities and villages. Specifically, Section 222, subsection (4), that provided an exemption for a solar, wind or energy storage facilities located entirely within the city or village, was altered in committee to only apply in the following context:

(4) If an energy facility that would otherwise be subject to subsection (2) is located entirely within a city or village, the city or village is exempt from this part as it relates to the energy facility if the city or village is the owner of participating property, is a developer of the facility, or owns an electric utility that will take service from the energy facility.

We believe the original language added by the House was intended to clearly provide local control to cities and villages on wind, solar, and energy storage projects that were contained entirely within their boundaries. The changes made by the Senate make it improbable that a city or village will have any ability for oversight of placement of the proposed project as intended. We interpret this language to now have no substantive meaning.

It has been the League’s consistent position that the main target of this legislation is not cities and villages. Utility scale projects are extremely unlikely to take place within their defined municipal boundaries. We have been steadfast in our advocacy for a full exemption of cities and villages, and we believe the House passed version of this legislation took a positive step in that direction.

We need your help now! Reach out and tell your senator you want them to support restoring the House language to Section 222, subsection (4) and to oppose any version of HB 5120 and 5121 that fails to do so.

John LaMacchia is the League’s director of state & federal affairs. He can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0303.

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