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Michigan EIBC Newsletter: DTE’s Distributed Generation Tariff, Detroit’s Building Energy Efficiency Efforts and More
Welcome to the weekly newsletter of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), the business voice for advanced energy in Michigan. Here’s what’s new this week:
Testimony Shows How DTE’s Proposed DG Tariff Is ‘Thoroughly Unsound’
DTE’s proposed tariff on distributed generation customers promotes wasteful use of energy and goes against basic principles of utility ratemaking, according to testimony filed by Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation in DTE’s latest electric rate case (U-20836).
“It is the most thoroughly unsound rate design proposal that I have ever seen proposed from the standpoint of the commonly accepted ratemaking principles such as cost causation, economic efficiency, and revenue sufficiency,” expert witness Justin Barnes, director of research at EQ Research, said in the testimony.
The proposed tariff would punish rooftop solar users and other distributed generation customers with a demand charge that is disconnected to the actual costs of serving those customers, Barnes explains. This charge is based on an average of the customers’ top three hourly demands in a 12-month period, ignoring all the other aspects of the customer’s demand. Any demand below that level has a marginal cost of “effectively zero,” giving customers little to no incentive to use electricity efficiently, Barnes argued.
The design of the tariff ensures that “on-site solar generation would not reduce the service level charge even if a customer’s generation system typically reduces the demands they place on the grid during peak periods,” Barnes testified. It is even possible that a customer on the rate “would pay more for electric service than they would pay on another available residential 6 rate without installing a DG system. At a minimum, the cost savings for DG customers would be severely reduced… making new installations financially unviable,” he wrote.
In her own testimony, Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman stressed that, while DTE should increase its distributed generation program caps so customers in its service territory are able to add new distribution generation systems, such an increase should not be offered in exchange for “unreasonable, punitive charges on customers” like the charges proposed by DTE.
Detroit’s Building Energy Efficiency Efforts Are Growing
A detailed article in Energy News Network this week surveys the progress and still-to-be-realized potential for energy efficiency in Detroit’s commercial building sector.
About 68% of Detroit’s greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial, institutional, residential, and commercial buildings, the city has estimated. That makes increasing energy efficiency for buildings a key component of the city’s strategy to meet its goal of cutting emissions by 35% by 2024.
The article discusses some success stories in those efforts, such as upgrades at the office of Detroit nonprofit EcoWorks, made possible by a $500,000 loan facilitated by Michigan EIBC member Michigan Saves. These energy efficiency improvements are expected to reduce the building’s utility costs by 50%. The Detroit 2030 District has seen an uptick in membership of building owners who want to take advantage of the District’s programs on energy reduction and sustainable practices.
A next step to build on these successes is for the city to develop a utility benchmarking policy, an effort being spearheaded by Detroit’s energy waste reduction committee, which includes Ben Dueweke, the director of community partnerships with Michigan EIBC member Walker-Miller Energy Services. “The point of this is usually to help quantify the amount of energy that city is using for its largest buildings, and understand who the high performers are, [and] the low performers,” Dueweke said in the article.
Multistate, Midwestern Transmission Line Advances
One of the biggest challenges for the growth of clean energy continues to be transmission. The story of the $2 billion Grain Belt Express HVDC line, described by the Wall Street Journal as one of several “electron superhighways” that would enable large amounts of renewable energy development, exemplifies how hard it is to build interstate transmission lines. But now, compromise legislation (HB 2005) signed by Gov. Mike Parsons of Missouri, calls for additional benefits to landowners on future transmission projects permitted post passage of the bill, and ensures Grain Belt Express will move forward.
The measure, signed into law June 11, provides that landowners be compensated 150 percent of fair market value by future developers, if their properties are acquired through eminent domain.
Grain Belt Express, which would connect four states including Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana over 800 miles would transmit at least 4,000 GW of renewable energy and deliver billions of dollars of savings and reliability benefits for the Midwest and other regions. The project has been under development for more than a decade, a result of numerous legal and legislative challenges. Grain Belt Express is owned by Michigan EIBC member Invenergy Transmission, who acquired the project several years ago when the original developer closed operations due to setbacks faced on the project.
Projects like Grain Belt Express can enable the construction of more wind and solar power and serve to improve reliability. “One of the major reliability benefits for Grain Belt will be the ability to also move power under emergency conditions from east to west,” Invenergy Transmission Senior Vice President Patrick Whitty said in a recent article about the project. “Had Grain Belt been in place during (the winter storm power outages of February 2021), we know that some of those outage events could have been minimized or even avoided altogether.”
We are a passionate group of advocates working to protect and enhance what makes this place so special. For us, that’s our lively towns and cities, our clean water, our farm and forest landscape, and the spirit of community that ties us all together. We build partnerships, raise awareness, and do our best to support what we see as an exciting community resilience movement that is gaining traction in Michigan. While our committed staff works hard to advance our pro-environment, pro-economy mission, our strength comes from the support, partnership, and involvement of thousands of people who share a sense of optimism that the effort we put forward today will lay the groundwork for a brighter future.
Michigan Energy News
- Gov. Whitmer awards Neighborhood Enhancement Program grants to 33 local governments and nonprofits “to help residents make home repairs, energy efficiency upgrades, and neighborhood amenity improvements.”
- Clean Fuels Michigan sends a letter to Michigan’s federal legislators, signed by 27 members and partners (including Michigan EIBC and several Michigan EIBC members) calling for support for several transportation-related policies, including reforming the Passenger Electric Vehicle Tax Credit.
- Michigan’s grid is in “a good spot” going into this summer, Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) Commissioner Katherine Peretick and others say.
- Michigan EIBC member General Motors will not be introducing new hybrid models, instead focusing on all-electric models, CEO Mary Barra says.
- Rising water levels due to climate change is threatening industrial facilities and contaminated sites on Lake Michigan, according to a new report from the Environmental Law & Policy Center.
National Energy News
- The PJM Interconnection looks to clear out its backlogged interconnection queue with a “first-ready, first-approved” approach.
- The U.S. energy storage market sets a new record for capacity of new installations in a first quarter of a year.
- Tesla launches a virtual power plant demonstration in Texas to convince ERCOT regulators to change rules to allow homes using Powerwall systems to provide grid support services.
- The U.S. Department of Energy proposes new energy efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces that could push more home heating to electric.
- Michigan EIBC member NextEra Energy puts out a plan to decarbonize its subsidiary Florida Power & Light with large increases in solar and storage, all without increasing customer bills.
Attention Michigan EIBC members: if you have a job announcement you would like in the newsletter, please send a paragraph describing the position and a link to apply to Matt Bandyk at email@example.com. Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.
Position: Manager, Government Relations (MISO). Salt Lake City.
The Manager of Government Affairs will lead AESCE’s public policy efforts related to wind, solar, energy storage, green hydrogen, as well as other technologies as determined for key states in the central and western part of the U.S.. They will assist in the establishment of AESCE strategies, that align with laws, regulations, and policies where AESCE works. The Manager will also provide ongoing analysis and information to the development, strategic development, operations and commercial team for the identification of new market opportunities, response to new opportunities, and optimization of project assets. Additionally, the Manager will identify potential policy changes or modifications that may benefit the business and collaborate with internal teams to develop a coordinated strategy. A key function will be maintaining strong relationships with government officials, associated authorities, state agencies, committees, and other industry and partner organizations. This role will have a strong understanding of AESCE’s assets and products and be a capable communicator and team player.
Position: Manager, Stakeholder Relations (MISO & ERCOT). Indianapolis or Houston.
AES is actively developing a diverse renewable energy portfolio across the Midwest and Texas, and our development efforts require strong stakeholder relationships for our business to be successful. The Manager of Stakeholder Relations, MISO & ERCOT, will partner with cross-functional teams to execute project-specific and regional stakeholder relations strategies supporting business and project success.
Rhombus Energy Solutions
Position: Government Funding Manager. Dearborn, Mich.
- Manage Rhombus Energy Solutions public funding opportunities from planning, proposal, submission, negotiation and project management.
- Develop key contacts at national and local level to influence spending on infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and VW Consent Decree towards Rhombus Energy value propositions.
- Identify pipeline of public funding opportunities for Rhombus Energy Solutions including federal, state, local DC Fast charging opportunities.
- Respond to requests for quote (RFQ), requests for proposal (RFP) and requests for information (RFI) related to USDOT, USDOE national EV charging network. Craft abstracts and submission for public funding opportunities. Analyze and create budgets for funding opportunities including identifying cost shares and necessary resources to meet tender requirements.
Rhombus Energy Solutions
Position: Utility Account Manager. Dearborn, Mich.
- Thorough knowledge of the market including the competitive landscape, articulates our key value propositions and differentiators to customers and influencers
- Develops and maintain knowledge of relevant utility, state and federal requirements for EVSE and related infrastructure. Secures participation of Rhombus Energy Solutions into EVSE rebate programs. Influence utility program managers toward Rhombus Energy Solutions differentiators.
- Document and understand funding opportunities and share within Rhombus, key customers, and distributors. Register Rhombus Energy Solutions across North American utility programs.
- Engages frequently with partners, end users, electrical contractors, consulting engineers, OEMs, and other parties to support and drive growth of Rhombus Energy Solutions sales.
Michigan and National Energy Events
Join the Institute for Energy Innovation and Michigan EIBC member Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University on June 21 for the Commercial & Industrial Solar Energy Convening at the Accelerator’s office in Southfield. The event’s discussion will focus on the findings of a Michigan Commercial & Industrial Renewable Energy Roadmap developed for Michigan EGLE. Register here.
The Michigan Geothermal Energy Association and Michigan EIBC member Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University are holding a Commercial & Industrial Geothermal Convening on June 30 at Lansing Community College, West Campus. Register here.
On July 12-14, PlugVolt will be hosting its next Battery Seminar in Plymouth, MI (USA) featuring an entire day of in-depth technical tutorials on solid-state batteries, next-gen anodes and cathodes, battery diagnostics, failures, battery management systems, etc. by world renowned professors from Top 50 US Universities. Attendees will also get an exclusive opportunity to tour INTERTEK Battery Testing Center of Excellence in Plymouth, MI (USA) firsthand, ask questions to resident experts, and enjoy some light appetizers and beverages while networking with industry peers. Register here.
The Battery Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing FOA has a deadline of May 27 for letters of intent and July 1 for full applications.
Concept papers in response to the DOE’s Electric Drive Vehicle Battery Recycling & Second-Life Applications FOA are due May 31 and full applications are due July 19.
Michigan EIBC member Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University is accepting applications for its C3 Accelerator. Apply here by June 30. C3 is a growth stage Accelerator with up to $1.6M in funding in the form of grants, investments, and services to support the product development and scaling of Cleantech, Climatech, and Circular Economy technologies.
The Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4) is seeking a full-time contract position to provide coordination of C4 leadership, organizational representatives, Grand Rapids residents, and the program deliverables.
State of Michigan DNR is going big in solar with projects in the ground, others in development and additional ones being planned. DNR has released a Request for Proposal for Prequalification Program for Renewable Energy PPAs: www.michigan.gov/sigmavss. Use “Guest Access” to get the RFP. A previous round of pre-qualifications netted solar companies that then were able to bid on a portfolio of DNR solar projects in Southwest Michigan. Another portfolio in the Northern Region is in the works for later this year. Only companies who pre-qualify can bid on future DNR solar projects. Please direct all correspondence to the Solicitation Manager, Laura Gyorkos at gyorkosL@michigan.gov.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s PlanetM Testing Grant gives mobility companies the opportunity to access testing facilities around the state, including Mcity at the University of Michigan. Apply here.
Aaron Kurz, a former Michigan EIBC intern and University of Michigan alum, is working to build a state-level Science Policy Fellowship in Michigan, the Michigan Initiative for Science Policy (MISP). This program will place five recent STEM PhD recipients throughout the Michigan state government to provide a source of non-partisan, evidence-based information to decision makers. MISP will join the 10 other state programs throughout the country, including Idaho, Missouri, and New Jersey. Additional information about this initiative may be found at miscipol.org. If you are interested in providing written support for MISP, please contact Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.