Michigan lawmaker denies potential conflict of interest in solar bills



(The Center Square) – A Michigan lawmaker voted a bill out of committee that could help his business, but the lawmaker says it’s inactive.

Rep. Joey Andrews, D-St. Joseph, told The Center Square in a phone interview he owns a small inactive solar installation company started in 2015 with a few friends that doesn’t have employees, revenue or projects.

Andrews helped vote House Bill 5120, 5121, 5122, and 5123 out of the Energy, Communications, and Technology Committee.

The package aims to create a certification process for wind or solar energy facilities through the Michigan Public Service Commission. If enacted into law, the package would give the MPSC power to override local zoning or regulation of wind or solar energy facilities and energy storage facilities with a capacity of 100 megawatts or more.

Andrews said this legislation applies to “significantly” bigger projects, like filling an entire wind and solar farm, while his company placed solar panels on home rooftops.

The company last provided service in 2021 and before that, in early 2019, when they would put solar panels on rooftops.

Kevon Martis is a spokesperson for Our Home Our Voice LLC, a statewide bipartisan nonprofit committed to preserving local control of land uses including wind, solar, battery storage, aggregate extraction, and short-term rentals.

“I cannot attest to whether Rep. Andrews solar company is active or inactive,” Martis wrote in an email. “But the bills he voted on do deal with solar projects the size his firm was or is likely involved with, those under 50 megawatts. I am sure Rep. Andrews is committed to clean government and there is no shame in recusal. Doing so would show he is serious about putting people first.”

Michigan Democrats holding a political trifecta for the first time in 40 years are chasing a 100% renewable energy standard.

In 2021, renewables provided 11% of Michigan’s net electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Michigan is retiring energy sources that provided more than 60% of electricity generation in 2021, counting coal and other plants.

Michigan Republicans claim wind and solar energy will drive up electricity costs.

“As Michigan Democrats try to outlaw reliable natural gas power plants, mandate unreliable wind and solar, and override local decisions, they’re ignoring the voices of the families most harmed by their radical plans,” Rep. Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, said in a statement. “People want affordable electricity, but the left-wing plan to close power plants would drive their electric bills up. People want a say over windmills and solar farms in their communities, but Democrats know they can’t enforce their own expensive wind and solar mandates without steamrolling our communities and letting the Whitmer administration call the shots.”

The potential conflict of interest follows a Sept. 5 Detroit News report detailing a possible conflict of interest for Rep. Angela Witwer, D-Delta Township, who was instrumental in forming the state’s record $82 billion budget.

By Dec. 31, Michigan lawmakers must disclose assets, income sources, liabilities, positions held, gifts received, and any positions held. If not enacted by Dec. 31, a Michigan resident could sue the Legislature and the governor in the Michigan Supreme Court to enforce the provisions.



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