Michigan Lawmaker Introduces Renewable Energy Sources Act

By Paul Gipe


For more information contact: The office of the Honorable Kathleen Law, Michigan State Assembly, 517 373 0855

Lawmaker Files Michigan Renewable Energy Sources Bill First Full-Featured Feed Law Introduced in the USA Prices for Solar & Biogas to Surpass Those in Ontario

Veteran Michigan Assemblywoman Kathleen Law (Dem-23rd District) has submitted the first comprehensive renewable energy feed-in law to an American state legislature.

Assemblywoman Law introduced HB 5218 (2007), the Michigan Renewable Energy Sources Act, Monday, September 17, 2007 in Michigan’s House of Representatives to revive Michigan’s flagging economy and create thousands of new jobs.

“We are extremely excited that Michigan has joined the ranks of so many progressive states in making the commitment to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Subhendu Guha, president of United Solar Ovonic. “Policies like this will create new jobs in Michigan and will help maintain a cleaner environment.”

Michigan is the home of United Solar Ovonic, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of thin-film solar cells. There are no manufacturers of solar cells in Ontario, Canada. An Ontario company, Arise Technologies, is building a $70 million factory in Germany.

“This is a significant move that if implemented will put Michigan at the forefront of renewable energy policy in North America,” said José Etcheverry, senior policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation.

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Technology.

HB 5218 (2007) is patterned after Germany’s highly successful Renewable Energy Sources Act, which has powered the country to world leadership in wind, solar, and biomass energy. Germany has created nearly one-quarter million new jobs in its booming renewable energy industry.

The bill by Assemblywoman Law is the first of its kind in the United States. HB 5218 (2007) introduces the European policy of Advanced Renewable Tariffs into the Michigan political arena.

The province of Ontario launched a similar but less comprehensive program in 2006, and a bill for solar energy tariffs was introduced into Hawaii’s legislative assembly earlier this year.

The proposed tariffs or payments for solar energy in the Michigan bill are more than 50% greater than the equivalent tariffs in Ontario, currently the highest in North America. Likewise, the proposed tariff for biogas is nearly one-third greater than that in Ontario.

The Michigan proposal also includes tariffs for geothermal energy, a technology not covered by Ontario’s Standard Offer Contract program.

Renewable tariffs, like those in HB 5218 (2007), encourage homeowners, farmers, and businesses to sell their renewable energy for a profit by allowing them to “feed” their electricity “in” to the grid. In Advanced Renewable Tariffs, the tariffs or price paid per kilowatt-hour for electricity fed into the grid, differs by technology. For example, the tariff for solar energy is much higher than that for wind energy so that homeowners can profitably install solar panels on their roofs across the state.

The tariffs proposed in HB 5218 (2007) are equivalent to those in Germany and the highest in North America.


  • Hydro less than 500 kW: $0.10 USD/kWh
  • Biogas less than 150 kW: $0.145 USD/kWh
  • Geothermal less than 5 MW: $0.19 USD/kWh
  • Wind: $0.105 USD/kWh
  • Wind energy from small wind turbines: $0.25 USD/kWh(1)
  • Rooftop solar less than 30 kW: $0.65 USD/kWh
  • Solar façade cladding less than 30 kW: $0.71 USD/kWh

HB 5218 (2007) also is the first bill to propose wind tariffs differentiated by wind resource intensity as is used in France. These differentiated tariffs limit potentially excessive profit from commercial wind farms at windy sites while allowing profitable development in less windy areas. This is important in a state like Michigan so farmers in the interior of the state can profitably develop their wind resources.

Before becoming law, the bill must pass both the House and Senate and must be signed by Governor Jennifer Granholm who has made renewable energy a key element of her administration.

In the spring of 2007 Governor Granholm travelled to Germany. After returning she was quoted in the Detroit News as saying, “In Germany they created 170,000 jobs by changing the incentives for the use of wind and solar. We ought to be doing the same thing in Michigan.”

If passed into law and signed by the Governor, HB 5218 (2007) will push Michigan to the forefront of renewable energy policy in North America, surpassing that of Ontario, Michigan’s Canadian neighbor.

For the provisions of the bill, see HB 5218 (2007).

1. HB 5218 states $0.025/kWh. This is a printing error.