LANSING — A new campaign launched in November by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters urges passage of House Bill 4236 to remove unnecessary restrictions to rooftop solar and draws attention to Rep. Joe Bellino’s cozy relationship with the monopoly utilities he’s supposed to regulate as chair of the House Energy Committee.
Despite broad bipartisan support for increasing the use of affordable solar energy in Michigan, House Energy Committee Chair Joe Bellino refuses to move HB 4236 out of committee — despite a majority of its members in support.
At the same time, according to an analysis of campaign finance reports over the past five years, Bellino has collected over $78,000 from DTE and Consumers Energy, and oil and gas interests.
“We’ve continually seen this unhealthy blurring of the lines between money that DTE and Consumers funnel to lawmakers and the repeated blocking of common sense, bi-partisan policies to give us more reliable, affordable energy choices,” said Bob Allison, deputy director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “This ridiculous, unnecessary cap on rooftop solar — the only of its kind in the country — must go, but Mr. Bellino continues to delay and obstruct on behalf of DTE and Consumers while Michiganders suffer through prolonged blackouts and days without power while paying the highest rates in the Midwest. We need our lawmakers to stand up for us.”
Michigan LCV’s campaign has included mail to Bellino’s constituents, a radio ad on talks news, a billboard in Monroe County, and advertising in both the Monroe Evening News and on social media and streaming TV. Examples below:
“Taxes” Streaming Ad
“Golf” Streaming Ad
Billboard in Monroe
IMPORTANT BACKGROUND & CONTEXT
False ‘Subsidy’ Narrative: Both DTE and Consumers, along with Bellino, have continued to use a false narrative that they have peddled for years around a “subsidy” or “cost-shift” claim, essentially that households without solar are ‘subsidizing’ those with panels on their roofs. This was flatly refuted in an October 2021 study by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).
Michigan LCV produced this memo compiling on-the-record quotes from MPSC officials and reports refuting claims that there is a subsidy for rooftop solar users.
Other Common Sense Clean Energy Legislation Blocked: Utility companies have also been staunchly opposed to House Bills 4715 and 4716, legislation that would remove restrictions to allow for community solar projects. The legislation has bipartisan support but has yet to receive a vote in committee.
Highest Rates – Worst Service: The Citizens Utility Board of Michigan, an independent organization representing the interests of Michigan’s residential energy customers, revealed in a 2020 report that Michigan has the highest electricity rates in the Midwest and the worst service.
Previous Michigan LCV Campaign: In the Spring 2021, Michigan LCV conducted a similar accountability campaign, urging Democratic members of the House Energy Committee to support House Bill 4236, launching digital ads and mailers in the districts of Reps. Mari Manoogian, Jim Haadsma and Ranjeev Puri.
“Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, you have to stand up for the people of Michigan and give them the freedom to break free of these monopoly utilities and their skyrocketing rates,” said Allison.