Michigan embraces Pollinator-Friendly Solar

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Photo of pollinator-friendly solar farm, courtesy of Engie.

In response to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s action today, Fresh Energy issued the following statement:

“We praise Governor Whitmer’s action giving the state’s farmers more freedom to diversify their revenue into renewable energy and establish acres of flowering meadows for the state’s prized agricultural crops including blueberries, cherries, apples, and pickling cucumbers” said Rob Davis, director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy. “State executives and Departments of Agriculture are faced with pinched budgets and increasing costs and economic harm from climate change. Enabling private sector investments in acres of flowering meadows under and around solar farms—while holding soils on site, adding organic matter, and sequestering additional carbon—is a smart and productive use of the state’s farmland. While solar development will only ever be pursued on less than one percent of Michigan’s more than 10 million acres of land, these landscapes could provide urgently needed sanctuary and food resources to the state’s pollinators.”

Additional Resources

Michigan Department of Agriculture Policy on Solar Panel and PA116 Land

Michigan’s Pollinator-Friendly Solar Scorecard

Argonne National Lab: Can Solar Sites Save the Bees?

Michigan Crops and Pollinators
To maximize the yields of Michigan’s 22,959 acres of cultivated blueberries, pollinators have to make more than 460 billion visits each year to individual blueberry flowers within the 5 week blooming period.

Conservation groups praised the decision:

“The Monarch Joint Venture is a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration. Michigan Governor Whitmer’s decision to allow solar farms in agricultural preserve lands on the condition that they provide abundant and healthy sources of nectar and pollen is encouraging news that has the potential to meaningfully benefit monarchs as well as other butterflies and pollinators.”

Wendy Caldwell
Monarch Joint Venture

“Protection and conservation of pollinators doesn’t require much—just acres and acres of flowering plants and clean food and water sources. Pollinator Partnership applauds Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for the decision to use a pollinator-friendly solar scorecard in the decision allowing solar farm development on more of Michigan’s agricultural lands. The environment and the economy both win when states like Michigan lead the way to provide both low-cost energy and high-quality habitat for pollinators. That’s a victory for all of us.”

Kelly Rourke
Director of Programs and Operations
Pollinator Partnership

“Over the past two decades pollinators have suffered a tragic decline in populations due to habitat loss. As a habitat conservation organization, Pheasants Forever has taken a national leadership role in the effort to put pollinator habitat on the ground. In the last 5 years, we have completed 12,417 pollinator habitat projects with our volunteers committing more than 40,000 hours of their time. However, there is still much more to do, and we applaud Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in showing the state’s commitment to help the plight of pollinators by drawing attention to the plants, that research has shown thrive under and around the solar panels that generate clean energy. The end result of this will provide butterflies and bees more places to feed and high-quality habitat for pheasants and quail to nest, raise broods and forage.”

Chad Bloom
Development Officer
Pheasants Forever