House Bill 4236 will help promote reliable, affordable clean energy to low-income and BIPOC communities
LANSING – A group of more than 40 environmental justice advocates, community and faith-based organizations, residents, and local businesses, that have developed or advocated for the development of rooftop solar on buildings in low-income communities, today sent a letter to State House lawmakers in support of House Bill 4236, a bill that would remove restrictions for small-scale solar in Michigan.
Currently, there is an arbitrary 1% cap on the amount of utility companies’ energy that is generated from small scale solar systems and sold back to the grid through distributed generation. Several major utility companies have already reached that cap while others are quickly approaching it. House Bill 4236 would remove that cap to allow more small scale solar to be used to reduce energy costs and air pollution.
The bill is pending before the Michigan House Energy Committee and could receive a hearing and vote in the coming weeks.
“Michigan’s 1% cap on distributed generation is not only nationally unique, but it is one of the most limiting caps across the country. HB 4236, which will remove the cap, benefits pollution reduction, provides good-paying jobs, advances energy independence opportunities for low-income communities, and improves our state’s general well-being,” the groups wrote in the letter.
According to a 2018 Bloomberg Associates study, approximately 50% of Detroit residents pay more on their utility bills than what is considered affordable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Over the years, this has led to thousands of low-income and BIPOC communities to experience heat and electricity shut offs.
“Access to energy is a human right, and yet people both in inner cities and rural Michigan are unjustly at constant risk of shut offs and outages. What’s more, energy rates continue to skyrocket as utility companies spend millions of dollars to keep their aging, inefficient fossil fuel systems online. Michiganders need meaningful access to affordable and reliable energy. Solar energy is part of that solution,” the letter states.
Finally, the letter outlines the benefits of reducing reliance on fossil fuels that have disproportionate impacts on low-income and People of Color communities.
“Knowing that people of color and low-income communities are at the forefront of the energy reliability and affordability crisis, whilst also disproportionately bearing the burden of the health impacts that come from living, working, and playing in polluted neighborhoods, it is imperative that we as a collective make sure to consider their experience while making decisions about distributed generation.
It’s in everyone’s interest to lessen the burden of fossil fuel use on most impacted communities. We now know that solar energy not only helps build grid resilience, but also good-paying jobs. It plays a significant role in helping us collectively reduce our emissions and improve public health. HB 4236 is one modest step in the direction of that just and climate resilient Michigan we are all fighting for, and we hope you will join us in supporting this legislation.”
A full copy of the letter can be found here.