Most local officials support rooftop solar, a majority opposes nuclear power

Michigan’s local leaders overwhelmingly support adding rooftop solar infrastructure in their communities, while a majority strongly oppose developing nuclear power.

Those are among the key findings in the latest Michigan Public Policy Survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy. It presents the views of local government leaders statewide on a range of topics regarding local energy issues—in particular, their assessment of the amount of energy infrastructure in their communities and feelings on building more of it.

According to the survey, 86% of respondents either strongly or somewhat support adding rooftop solar panels. The survey found some regional variation: Rooftop solar drew support from 83% of leaders in the Upper Peninsula, while garnering 89% support from southeastern Michigan officials.

The favorability drops with other types of energy infrastructure: A majority (60%) support new electric transmission lines, 42% for new natural gas power plants and large-scale solar installations, 27% for large-scale wind projects and 25% for nuclear power and large-scale battery storage. A majority (51%) strongly oppose nuclear power.

“Not every local leader believes their community should see new large-scale renewable energy development,” said Natalie Fitzpatrick, project manager for CLOSUP. “There are certainly pockets of support across the state that are eager to partner on renewable development.”

When it comes to feelings on the number of energy assets in their communities, 36% of local leaders say they host their fair share, while 10% say they host more than their fair share and 23% have less. Nearly one-third of respondents are unsure if they have enough, too much or the right amount.

The researchers also note significant regional differences in these responses: In the east central Lower Peninsula, home to many wind farms, 15% of leaders say they have more than their fair share of energy infrastructure and 16% say they have less. In the Upper Peninsula, almost one-third (31%) of officials say they host less than their fair share and just 6% say they host more.

Debra Horner
Debra Horner

“Michigan’s rural communities are crucial in the development of renewable energy in the state,” said Debra Horner, the Michigan Public Policy Survey’s senior program manager. “And they are being asked to host a preponderance of large-scale wind and solar farms. It’s important to understand where communities and regions might welcome new renewable energy infrastructure and others that believe they’re already doing more than their fair share.”

CLOSUP, part of U-M’s Ford School of Public Policy, surveyed county, city, township and village officials from 1,315 jurisdictions across the state—representing a 71% response rate.

The study was funded by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, to help the state better understand local government perspectives around energy infrastructure.

Source: Michigan News


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