Most Michigan local government officials say control over renewable energy projects should stay local

February 2024

This policy brief presents the views of Michigan's local government leaders regarding the division of authority between state and local governments on planning and zoning for renewable energy projects. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the fall 2023 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS).

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Key findings

  • The Fall 2023 MPPS asked local leaders who they feel should have authority over decisions related to six specific areas of renewable energy planning and zoning: whether to have any renewable energy projects in a community, whether or not to have large renewable energy projects in a community, whether or not to have large renewable energy projects in a community, the types of renewable energy that belong in a community, where renewable energy belongs in a community, the parameters for renewable energy projects, and conducting public hearings on proposed renewable energy projects for a community.
  • In each of these areas, a large majority (63-78%) of local officials say authority should be completely under local government. Another 13-25% say authority should be primarily local, with some role for the state. Meanwhile, less than 10% say authority should be either mostly or completely with the state government.
  • These findings are consistent with previous MPPS survey results. For example, in fall 2016, when local leaders were asked more generally about authority over land use and planning, 49% said land use and planning should be completely local authority, and another 43% said it should be mostly local authority with some state input.
  • Rural and urban local leaders differ regarding who should have authority over whether or not to have large renewable energy projects in a community. On this issue, 71% of officials from fully rural jurisdictions and 66% of those from mostly rural communities say authority should be completely local, compared to 49% of mostly urban and 45% of fully urban jurisdictions. However, even among fully urban jurisdictions, only 11% say the state government should have complete or primary authority.
  • While more than 70% of local leaders who self-identify as Republicans say that local governments should have complete authority in each area, along with more than 60% of Independents, there is more variation across the different aspects of renewable energy projects among Democrats. Yet large majorities of Democratic local leaders still say all or most control should remain local.