Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Wind, solar farm law won’t make November ballot in Michigan

Power lines with solar panels
State officials estimate Michigan may need to dedicate 209,000 more acres of land to wind and solar development in order to meet its clean energy goals.(Shutterstock)
  • Last fall, lawmakers approved sweeping energy reforms, including a switch to statewide permitting standards for large renewable-energy projects 
  • Calling that a threat to ‘local control,’ one group is pursuing a ballot initiative to overturn the law
  • But Tuesday, organizers acknowledged they won’t make the November ballot

A proposed ballot initiative to repeal Michigan’s new statewide renewable energy permitting law will not make the November ballot.

Officials with Citizens for Local Choice have until 5 p.m. on Wednesday to turn in the 356,958 signatures needed to place the measure on this fall’s ballot. But in a statement Tuesday, the group acknowledged it will not meet that deadline.

Calling their campaign “strong and robust,” officials with the group said they will instead “continue our ambitious effort” while setting sights on the November 2026 ballot.


“The Citizens for Local Choice ballot campaign has engaged thousands of volunteers across the state and has issued tens of thousands of petitions for signatures in an effort to restore local control of large-scale wind and solar operations,” the statement said.

The proposed ballot initiative emerged soon after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last fall signed a suite of bills that aim to transition Michigan to 100% clean energy by 2040.


As part of the package, lawmakers changed the way large-scale wind, solar and battery-storage arrays are approved in Michigan. The law puts permitting authority in the state’s hands after it had rested with local governments.

The changes passed along party lines, with Republicans uniformly opposed. Democrats supported statewide permitting standards amid concern that local opposition to wind and solar was too frequently derailing projects, putting Michigan’s climate goals in danger. 

While environmental and labor groups and some farmers applauded the switch to state-level permitting, opponents including local government advocates and the Michigan Farm Bureau argued it deprives communities of the right to make their own land-use decisions. 

Citizens for Local Choice emerged soon thereafter as an offshoot of Our Home, Our Voice, a group that advocates for local control over issues from short-term vacation rentals to renewable energy and gravel mine permitting. 

But getting on this year’s ballot was always a long shot. 

Technically, backers of such initiatives have 180 days to gather the required signatures. But the deadline to get on this fall’s general election ballot is May 29, and the group didn’t start circulating petitions until late January, leaving them with far fewer days to collect signatures. 

Initiative backers say they plan to continue gathering signatures, hoping to collect enough in the next 50 days to make the November 2026 ballot. 

They did not respond to a Bridge Michigan question about how far they have to go.

While it continues gathering signatures, Citizens for Local Choice is facing a campaign finance complaint from pro-renewable energy groups.

On Tuesday, proponents of renewable energy applauded the news that the initiative would not make this year’s ballot.


“We see this ballot initiative really as an anti-renewable energy ballot initiative, despite what the proponents of it may say,” said Nick Dodge, communications director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. 

Permitting reforms designed to build more renewable energy, he said, will bring “a massive amount of benefits to Michiganders.”

Experts with the Michigan Public Service Commission estimate Michigan may need to dedicate 209,000 more acres of land to wind and solar development in order to meet the state’s clean energy goals.

How impactful was this article for you?

Michigan Environment Watch

Michigan Environment Watch examines how public policy, industry, and other factors interact with the state’s trove of natural resources.

Michigan Environment Watch is made possible by generous financial support from:

Our generous Environment Watch underwriters encourage Bridge Michigan readers to also support civic journalism by becoming Bridge members. Please consider joining today.

Only donate if we've informed you about important Michigan issues

See what new members are saying about why they donated to Bridge Michigan:

  • “In order for this information to be accurate and unbiased it must be underwritten by its readers, not by special interests.” - Larry S.
  • “Not many other media sources report on the topics Bridge does.” - Susan B.
  • “Your journalism is outstanding and rare these days.” - Mark S.

If you want to ensure the future of nonpartisan, nonprofit Michigan journalism, please become a member today. You, too, will be asked why you donated and maybe we'll feature your quote next time!

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now