Audubon Great Lakes Submits Testimony in Support of Community Solar in Michigan

Michigan SB 152 & SB 153 offer opportunities to expand solar access to help protect birds from climate change

MICHIGAN (June 24, 2024) On June 13, 2024, Audubon Great Lakes Policy Director, Marnie Urso submitted the following written testimony to the Michigan Senate Committee on Energy and Environment in support of two bills, SB 152 and SB 153, which would expand community solar across Michigan:   

Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony in support of SB 152 & SB 153. I am writing on behalf of Audubon Great Lakes, a regional office of the National Audubon Society, and our more than 43,000 members in Michigan to express our strong support for SB 152 & SB 153, which would enable and scale community solar in Michigan.  

Audubon scientists have found that two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction due to climate change. To bend the extinction curve for birds and protect against the most extreme impacts of climate change, we must reduce carbon pollution by increasing the use of renewable energy in Michigan, including solar.  

These bills will help Michigan reach 100% renewable energy which is necessary to protect people and birds from climate change.  

Specifically, they will:  

  • Allow for more equitable participation in the solar economy by eliminating barriers for individuals, who are currently shut out of the market.  

  • Improve access to solar, offering the economic benefits of solar to everyone, regardless of where they live, creating opportunities for families and businesses to lower and stabilize their bills. On average, consumers will save 5%-20% on utility bills.  

  • Increase the supply of clean electricity coming onto the grid and help diversify Michigan’s energy supply which will provide more resiliency as extreme weather events become more common.  

  • Create jobs and build wealth in the communities where projects are built.  

Michigan’s biodiverse landscape is incredibly important for birds. Located at the intersection of two migratory flyways, the Atlantic and Mississippi, hundreds of species of waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors flock to and through Michigan each spring and fall, depending on our natural spaces to rest, refuel, and nest. But birds also give back to Michigan communities by filling our landscapes with beauty, serving as important pollinators for our agriculture industry, and supporting Michigan’s outdoor recreation economy, valued at over $11 billion per year.  

Because birds are highly sensitive to shifts in temperature and habitat, they are already facing significant challenges from habitat loss, changing weather patterns and other climate-related impacts here in Michigan. Storm events and rising water levels caused by climate change are threatening species like the Black Tern, which has lost nearly 99% of its state population since 1966 and was added to the state threatened and endangered species list last year.  

It is critical that we expand renewable energy while ensuring that birds’ conservation needs are met. Audubon strongly supports renewable energy projects that are responsibly sited to avoid and minimize impacts to birds and their habitat. We can strike the right balance for birds and other wildlife by strategically locating renewable energy facilities in areas that minimize impacts on sensitive ecosystems and by conducting thorough environmental assessments.  

Birds provide us with critical insights into the state of our environment. By paying close attention to them, we can better understand the urgency of addressing climate change for our communities. Furthermore, the impacts of climate are felt disproportionately by Black and Brown communities. Expanding community solar will help ensure that residents in underserved communities across Michigan have equitable access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar power.  

Audubon Great Lakes thanks the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment for recognizing the urgency of addressing climate change and taking steps to move to a renewable energy future. We strongly encourage you to support policies like these bills that demonstrate Michigan's commitment to this critical goal. Michigan’s birds and people depend on it. 

Learn more about the importance of community solar here.   

About Audubon Great Lakes 
Audubon Great Lakes is a regional office of Audubon, learn more atgl.audubon.organd follow us onFacebook,TwitterandInstagram.   

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.  

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