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EGLE's unique renewable energy ordinance database of Michigan communities is first of its kind in nation

Group of solar panelsAs part of National Clean Energy Week, MI Environment looks at Michigan's unique renewable energy ordinance database.

Michigan municipalities have available to them a unique, searchable database of municipal ordinances across Michigan that address siting for renewable energy installations.

The database -- developed in collaboration with the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan -- is part of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy's (EGLE) commitment to document how communities incorporate energy into their master plans or ordinances and provide the foundation for data-driven deliverables on polices to advance Michigan's energy future.

The renewable energy zoning database is the first compilation of all renewable energy ordinances across the state and the first database of its kind in the nation.

"Wind and solar continue to grow as generation sources in Michigan and that demand will only increase in the coming years as utilities move away from fossil fuels," said Liesl Clark, EGLE director. "This comprehensive database is a wonderful tool to help communities around the state. Community engagement is a critical component of economic development including the expansion of tax base through energy projects."

The database is an in-depth resource guide for municipalities developing ordinances or for developers looking to site wind, solar, or other alternative energy projects. At-a-glance maps updated in real time will help users to quickly determine which municipalities are primed for renewable energy development with existing ordinances.

In 2020 when the database was launched, over half of Michigan's more than 1,800 municipalities have considered renewable energy in their zoning ordinances. Now, the numbers are higher -- especially for solar -- says Sarah Mills, senior project manager at the University of Michigan.

"Communities have wanted to see real world examples of how other Michigan communities are handling renewable zoning, but in the past, it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack," Mills added. "Through the grant from EGLE, we were able to compile the Michigan Zoning Database, a first in the nation, that is specifically related to energy zoning. We are pleased to partner with EGLE to bring this unique tool to the communities that need them most."

Photo caption: Group of solar panels

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