Fight to maintain local control of utility siting

Citizens for Local Choice is leading a petition drive to allow for a ballot initiative to repeal aspects of Michigan Public Act 233. That law strips away local control of large-scale electrical utility projects.

Michigan has 83 counties and 1,240 townships. Officials representing these government units are selected by popular vote. Residents can also voice concerns at public meetings held close to home. Local residents and local government officials also understand the economic, environmental and social context of what is important to residents’ well-being.

If allowed to stand, Public Act 233 will transfer local control of siting industrial wind and solar projects to the three-person Michigan Public Service Commission. That entity is not elected by the voters and does not represent local interests. In fact, the Detroit News reported in November that large corporate utilities like DTE Energy and Consumers Energy enjoy a close relationship with the Public Service Commission. That article went on to report that of the 19 commissioners whose service on the Public Service Commission has ended since 1990, at least 79% went on to employment in the energy and electricity sectors.

In closing, I am not against strategies to reduce energy use or produce energy in a more sustainable manner. What I am against is a law that makes it more difficult for residents to provide input on siting an industrial energy factory in their backyard, removes local control on decision making related to land use, and hands that control to large businesses and their Wall Street investors.

James Mihelcic



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