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Bipartisan group introduces bills to encourage residents to produce their own clean energy

State lawmakers have a plan to encourage Michiganders to produce their own clean, renewable energy. A bipartisan group introduced a package of bills Tuesday.

Some of the bills focus on removing barriers to net metering. Net metering lets people who produce their own renewable energy – like solar – get hooked up to the public-utility power grid. They can use the power they make at any time, plus they can essentially sell the energy they don’t use to the utility.

One bill would get rid of caps on how much energy you can produce. Another would ensure people who put energy onto the grid are fairly compensated.

“We have to get the freedom to the consumers,” said Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet), a bill sponsor. “We are paying too heavy of a price for energy in Michigan.”

Another bill would let people hook up to so-called microgrids. Those are power sources that people in the community can tap into during a power outage.

Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), also a bill sponsor, said these bills are also good for the environment because they encourage people to use clean energy.

“So we can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and ensure that our communities are safer and healthier as a result,” he said.

Utilities have opposed bills that expand net metering in the past. A spokesperson for Consumers Energy said the company supports sustainable options for customers, but they want to make sure all customers pay their share of maintaining the electric grid.

Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland), a bill sponsor, said he knows the utilities probably won’t like these bills.

“They demand that all the eggs be put in two monopoly basket,” he said. “And I think that’s a bad move for our state to go in from a standpoint of diversity and reliability because we don’t want everybody to be dependent on their grid.”