Michigan bill would codify preserved farmland’s ability to become solar

A new bill introduced in Michigan would allow farmers enrolled in the state’s farmland preservation program to rent land to commercial solar operations.

Bill sponsor Senator Kristen McDonald Rivet tells Brownfield the legislation would pause tax incentives for farmers in the PA 116 program and allow land to be used for solar generation.

“When you’re done using the land for the solar farm, you take that down and revert the land back to farming space, and the tax incentives kick back in,” she explains.

McDonald Rivet says the proposed bill would help to diversify clean energy creation while protecting farmland.

“What we’re trying to do is codify it so there’s never a time where our farmers are forced to chose between putting pieces of land into PA 116 that holds that farmland for future generations and the ability to generate income from a solar farm that is by nature temporary,” she says.

McDonald Rivet says she sees the bill helping farmers who want to preserve farmland designating unprofitable land for solar while also actively farming other portions.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which oversees the program, currently conditionally permits enrolled land to use solar panels if tax credits are deferred.

Senate Bill 277 is part of a larger package of clean energy bills recently introduced by Michigan Democrats as part of their MI Clean Energy Future Plan.

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