8th Annual Energy Innovators Conference Postponed, How the Coronavirus Is Affecting Advanced Energy

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:

8th Annual Energy Innovators Conference Postponed

Michigan EIBC is sorry to announce that in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the 8th Annual Energy Innovators Conference that was planned for April 22 has been postponed. This was not an easy decision, but ultimately a necessary one due to the guidance from public health authorities to avoid public gatherings. 

To be clear, the conference is not canceled. We are currently working to confirm a new date in either August or September. Look for an announcement soon. For those who are already registered, your ticket will still be valid for the new conference date. 

Even though the Conference will change dates, please still hold April 22 in your calendar. Michigan EIBC is planning a special mini virtual conference for Michigan EIBC members and conference ticket holders to take place on April 22. Details, including a list of speakers, are coming soon!

We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope that you, your family, friends and colleagues all stay healthy.  

Advanced Energy Industry Grapples With The COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is impossible to ignore, no matter your industry. It is a confusing and uncertain time for everyone, but there are some early ideas as to what the potential implications could be for the advanced energy industry.
Planned wind and solar projects around the world are facing disruptions in the supply chain that are in some cases delaying construction. For example, Grist reported that in the U.S., utility-scale wind developers are receiving notices from wind turbine suppliers in Asia that they cannot meet contract obligations, and some solar developers are unable to obtain enough panels to keep their projects on schedule.

But the situation is quickly changing, and the prospect for economic stimulus could mean some additional help for renewable energy developers. Congress is considering new or extended tax credits that could go toward wind, solar, storage or EVs. International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol recently said that stimulus packages being considered by various countries create “an excellent opportunity to ensure that the essential task of building a secure and sustainable energy future doesn’t get lost amid the flurry of immediate priorities.” In particular, he said that governments should consider targeting more energy efficiency improvements for buildings so cheaper energy prices do not lead to more energy waste.

There is also stimulus going on at the state level that could help some advanced energy companies. Gov. Whitmer has announced that small businesses affected by the crisis can apply for low-interest loans supported by funding from the Small Business Administration after the agency approved the governor’s request for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration. In addition, small businesses in Michigan have additional time to make their monthly sales, use and withholding tax payments.

There are also grants available for Michigan businesses hit by the crisis. Go to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s special page about the pandemic to see the resources that are available.

The pandemic has led to a decline in oil prices and, as a result, cheaper gas, which in the past has tended to hurt the EV market. At the same time, however, battery prices keep falling, reducing the upfront costs of EVs. “Automakers are unlikely to change their long-term plans as a result of fluctuations in the oil market,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Colin McKerracher told the New York Times. “Electrification is here to stay.”  


Michigan EIBC Members Release 2019 Sustainability Reports

Several Michigan EIBC members have recently issued new sustainability reports outlining actions taken in 2019 to support more efficient use of energy in their operations, greener supply chain sourcing and a number of other innovations.

In its 2019 Sustainability Report, Inovateus Solar discussed its progress toward the goal of carbon neutrality. The company completed an LED light retrofit at its headquarters, which will result in an estimated $10,000 in annual energy savings. This comes after the installation of a rooftop solar PV array at the facility in 2018 that provided 40% of the building’s electrical needs. Inovateus is also looking at how to deal with the “flood of solar waste” that will come when solar projects reach the end of their lifespan, according to the report. That work includes sourcing materials for the company’s solar projects that can be recycled.

Covanta’s report revealed that the company has diverted 26.2 million tons of waste from landfills to energy recovery. Covanta, which operates the Kent County Waste to Energy facility in Michigan along with its global network of facilities, takes post-recycled, non-hazardous municipal solid waste and combusts it to produce electricity and/or steam. 

Siemens reported that due to actions taken in fiscal year 2019 it is “well on track” to reach its intermediate goal to reduce its emissions from worldwide operations by half by 2020, part of a larger goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Much of that progress has come from the company’s direct purchases of renewable energy to supply electricity for Siemens facilities in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Spain, Portugal and more. Those purchases provide 58% of the company’s entire electricity use in fiscal year 2019, according to the report. 

Michigan Energy News

  • Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman explains the need for the Powering Michigan Forward legislation in this MiBiz article.
  • An E&E News article quotes Dr. Sherman and Mark Olinyk, founder and president of Michigan EIBC member Harvest Solar, about how utility caps pose an existential threat to solar companies in Michigan.
  • New loans available for small businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis “will provide critical capital for businesses facing a temporary loss of revenue as a result of coronavirus,” Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Mark Burton says
  • The Michigan Public Service Commission is taking a number of steps in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Shiloh Industries joins DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower program.
  • Gov. Whitmer and Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä sign a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on clean energy technology industries.

National Energy News

  • Amazon announces four new renewable energy projects, including one in Virginia, that will generate a combined 840,000 MWh.
  • Wind and solar resources are making the grid in Texas more reliable, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
  • The recent plunge in oil prices could help green energy by leading governments to reduce subsidies for fossil fuel industries.
  • In response to the pandemic, analysts are cutting back on their projections for 2020 renewable energy demand.
  • A mostly Republican legislature in Utah has passed a bill to move a third of the state’s population to renewable energy over the next ten years.
  • Illinois regulators have made it easier for third parties to own solar projects in the state.

Michigan Energy Events

The Southeast Michigan PACE Summit in Ann Arbor, hosted by Michigan EIBC member Lean & Green Michigan, has been postponed from its previous April 15 date.

The U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan is hosting the 2020 Michigan Energy Summit in Grand Rapids on April 21Tickets are available here.

The 4th annual Michigan Clean Energy Conference is in Traverse City from May 17 to May 19. Currently ticket sales have been suspended as organizers monitor the coronavirus situation.

The Mid-America Regulatory Conference, an association of regional organizations of utility and regulatory agencies from 14 states, is holding its annual meeting in Grand Rapids on June 21-24

On July 21-23, 2020 PlugVolt will be hosting its next Battery Seminar in Plymouth, MI (USA), featuring an entire day of in-depth technical tutorials presented by renowned professors from several US universities on Day 1, followed by Days 2 and 3 with industry subject matter experts presenting on Automotive and Stationary Storage applications respectively. Attendees will also get an exclusive opportunity to tour A123 Systems’ new Novi, Michigan (USA) facility.

The NetZeroBuild Summit 2020, bringing together the key stakeholders involved in the Midwest’s value chain for net-zero construction in residential, commercial, academic and government buildings, is in Novi from August 25-26 (New dates due to delay related to the coronavirus.)  

National Energy Events

The Midwest Solar Expo, previously scheduled from May 19-21 in Minneapolis, has been postponed.

The CLEANPOWER 2020 expo, organized by the American Wind Energy Association, will be in Denver from June 1-4, 2020. See registration options now


 The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has two new RFPs related to renewable energy projects at the Oden Fish Hatchery. The RFPs are published on the state’s online bidding portal. Search for numbers 20*1376 and 20*1377.

The Detroit 2030 District is a free program that challenges Detroit building owners and managers to reduce wasted energy. Those that achieve the greatest reductions from the prior-year baseline will be recognized at the first annual Detroit Energy Challenge Award Ceremony in 2021. Visit 2030districts.org/Detroit to find out more information including how a building can apply.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service is seeking applications for its Rural Energy for America Program, which makes loan guarantees and grants available for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, energy audits and more. The deadlines to apply for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants are Oct. 31, 2019, and March 31, 2020, while applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round. Find out more here.

The Michigan Energy Office’s Small Manufacturers Energy Waste Reduction Incentive Pilot is offering rebates of up to $15,000 per company for small manufacturers that can implement energy efficiency activities between Oct. 1, 2019 and July 31, 2020. There is a 100% minimum match requirement. Click here to learn more about eligibility and apply.