LANSING, Mich. — A Democrat-driven energy plan will eat up farmland and erode a way of life in rural Michigan, said state Sen. Thomas Albert.
Albert voted against House Bills 5120 and 5121 on Wednesday. The legislation would allow the unelected Michigan Public Service Commission to locate large-scale wind and solar energy projects throughout the state — even in communities that oppose them.
The MPSC — whose members are appointed by the governor — estimates it eventually might take more than 340,000 acres overall to meet the state’s renewable energy goals. That’s the equivalent of nearly all the farmland in Ionia and Barry counties combined.
“The bottom line is this proposal crosses a line,” said Albert, R-Lowell. “It violates the fundamental rights of people in local communities who elect their own local leaders to make their own decisions based on what’s best for them.”
Giving a state panel the power to decide where clean energy projects are located goes hand-in-hand with the Democrats’ plan calling for utilities to have 100% clean energy by 2040.
“The masters of the universe running our state either don’t understand or don’t care that swallowing up farmland will have devastating consequences,” Albert said. “Those of us who live in the countryside have seen firsthand what happens when solar moves in. First, they bring in the bulldozers, and it just gets worse from there — until you have miles and miles of black paneling instead of corn and wheat.
“Taking more farmland out of production will end a way of life for many families in rural communities and make food more expensive for everybody. It’s the wrong direction for our state.”