Yet again, out-of-state groups are pushing lawmakers in Lansing to make major changes to Michigan energy policy that could undermine affordability while threatening our clean energy progress.
The Michigan Legislature is now considering HB 4236, legislation that would remove the 1% “cap” on private rooftop solar. Because this bill does not address the shifting of costs from private solar users to those without private solar, it could cause energy costs to increase for many, if not most, Michigan households.
A Brief Background
For years, cost shifting from those with private solar to those without was unavoidable under our state’s old net metering policies. Net metering required local energy providers to purchase excess electricity from private solar users at full retail rates, enabling private solar users to access and use the grid without paying their fair share to support it. This essentially created generous subsidies for private solar users paid for by all other Michigan energy consumers
Michigan’s 2016 energy law maintained the state’s 1% cap on private rooftop solar in order to limit growth of these subsidies and protect the vast majority of Michigan energy consumers.
In 2019, the Michigan Public Service Commission made important updates to those outdated policies—switching from net metering to an inflow/outflow model that reduced, but did not eliminate, the subsidies for private solar users.
While these updates have helped level the playing field a bit, there is still a fair amount of cost shifting from private rooftop solar users to the rest of Michigan energy consumers taking place today. If lawmakers are going to lift the 1% cap, then they must first address and eliminate this cost shifting, which isn’t what is happening right now.
Keeping Energy Affordable and Fair—for Everyone
HB 4236 would irresponsibly expand private solar without ensuring everyone is paying their fair share to support Michigan’s electric grid. In doing so, it could raise energy costs while not doing much to advance a cleaner energy future for our state.
If lawmakers raise the cap, they must also address the current subsidy that allows private solar users to utilize the grid without paying the full cost of maintaining it. We all rely on and use the grid every day—in fact, private solar users have been found to use the grid 23% more than the average energy consumer.
Michigan’s energy policy should reflect the way private solar users access and use the grid in order to keep energy fair and affordable for all Michigan energy consumers.
Private solar is not even the fastest or most cost-effective way to advance solar power in Michigan. The best way to increase solar in communities statewide continues to be through universal solar projects that can help Michigan meet its carbon reduction and net zero energy goals more efficiently and effectively.
Getting Energy Policy Right
AMP believes it is important for legislators to get energy policy right—the first time. We fully support expanding the 1% cap to help Michigan’s homegrown developers increase their business. However, this cannot happen until Michigan legislators address the cost shifting that could cause utility bills to soar.
AMP supports private solar, but we need to do so in a way that works for all Michiganders. If passed, HB 4236 would expand private solar the wrong way, without first ensuring everyone is paying their fair share to support Michigan’s electric grid—ultimately raising energy costs for every other Michigander. If you agree, sign our petition today.