8th EV Convening, ITC on Federal Transmission Policy, New DTE Rate Case

8th EV Convening Drives Conversation on Electric Vehicles in Low and Moderate Income Communities

On July 11, Michigan EIBC held the 8th in its series of EV convenings, which bring together stakeholders from utilities, universities, government, developers and more to discuss electric vehicles and the policy environment affecting them. This convening was sponsored by the Michigan Energy Office.

Previous convenings have focused on topics like rate design and deployment of charging infrastructure.

The topic of this convening was electric vehicle adoption for low and moderate income communities. EVs have been steadily growing in popularity, but high prices, limited availability, and other barriers can limit their adoption in many communities. Low income communities are also in many cases less likely to receive EV charging infrastructure. There are efforts to push back against these challenges, such as utility programs to promote EVs for income-qualified consumers, education programs, and incentive programs, among other measures.

After opening remarks from Dr. Brandy Brown, the new Climate and Energy Advisor for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, data on vehicle ownership, commuting times and economic mobility among low and moderate income communities were provided to the audience to frame the conversation.

To help set the stage, attendees received a presentation on transportation data for low income communities in Michigan and nationally. Later, the Greenlining Institute Legal Counsel for Environmental Equity Román Partida-López gave a presentation about the barriers for increasing adoption of EVs in low income communities and shared information about successful programs from other parts of the country. Next, CLEAResult Senior Director David Lewis and Guillermo Diaz, CLEAResult’s Program Manager for the Consumers Energy Income-Qualified Program, spoke about how to design EV programs for income-qualified and underserved communities that drive economic development. The convening concluded with audience discussion on the topics of the day. 

Michigan EIBC Members on Recent EV Developments
With the completion of another EV convening, we wanted to highlight some of the exciting efforts our members have been involved in regarding electric vehicles.

ChargePoint, a Michigan EIBC member whose network supports over 97,000 charging spots around the world, recently announced a partnership agreement with Electrify America, which was created by the Volkswagen settlement to establish a national charging network. The partnership makes the two networks “interoperable.” It stipulatesthat electric vehicle owners who frequently use one network can charge on the other network on public chargers without incurring additional fees.

The agreement between ChargePoint and Electrify America should reduce EV consumer hassles like, as one article put it, “late-night calls to tech support to process credit card numbers, or to enroll as members in a different network in order to just use one of its chargers once.”

Greenlots, another Michigan EIBC member, has been helping institutions around the country adopt electric vehicles. In June, Greenlots described how Oregon utility Portland General Electric is using the company’s charging network operating platform to manage the utility’s growing network of charging stations. In May, Greenlots announced it would be deploying DC fast charging stations (backed by Greenlots’ software) at Columbus Yellow Cab in Columbus, Ohio, and along several routes in central Ohio.

Finally, earlier this year, the Wyoming, Michigan-based HME Ahrens Fox, a Michigan EIBC member that is a leading manufacturer of fire truck apparatuses, said their new Heavy-Rescue-Variable-
Response-Vehicle will be powered by hybrid electric technology. 

ITC: Federal Action Needed on Transmission and Renewables Issues

New transmission lines to connect currently separated regions of the country are a needed step in the national clean energy transition, Linda Apsey, President and CEO of Michigan EIBC member ITC Holdings Corp., writes in a recent piece published by Utilities Tech Outlook.

Wind and solar resources are often strongest in areas that are distant from population centers (such as wind in Iowa and Nebraska). Connecting the population centers to those areas could unlock new investment in renewable energy projects. But so far those interregional projects have been held back by lack of cooperation and insufficient regulation from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

But the trend of wider adoption of renewables creates an opportunity to improve interregional transmission. “This is an opportune moment for FERC to review how best to stimulate grid investment and who is best positioned to do it,” Apsey writes. “It also is a good time to address the physical state of the transmission grid, which is being asked to balance variable and transitional sources of energy using infrastructure that was often built in the 1960s and 1970s.”

ITC is the largest independent electric transmission company in the U.S.

Grid modernization is an important topic for the distribution system, as well. Michigan EIBC recently published a blog post about distribution grid modernization in Michigan. 

DTE Files Its Next Rate Case

DTE Energy on July 8 submitted a $351 million rate case application to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). The utility is proposing a 9.1% increase to its residential rate schedule, a 7.3% increase to the secondary rate schedule and a 2.9% increase to the primary rate schedule.

The rate case application includes several other requests. DTE wants the MPSC to approve a “Fixed Bill” pilot program in which customers pay a fixed price for their monthly electricity usage. The utility is also proposing a pilot aimed at helping low-income customers participate in the MIGreenPower voluntary green pricing program. Michigan EIBC will be reviewing the application and discussing issues relevant to members in the coming weeks.

The docket number for this case is U-20561. The MPSC approved the previous rate case for DTE (U-20162) in early May.


Michigan Energy News
Residents of Macomb County near where a Consumers Energy gas compressorstation caught fire in January are demanding that a replacement station include an earthen berm as an additional safety feature.
The city of Ann Arbor wants to introduce more electric vehicles and reduce emissions from the city’s vehicle fleet by 25% by 2025.
Consumers Energy plans to redevelop a section of its hometown of Jackson into a “smart energy” district where technologies like battery storage and electric vehicle charging stations will be tested.
In an interview, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow explains why she wants Michigan to be the first state in the country fully networked for electric vehicles.
Indiana Michigan Power is proposing an 11.75% rate hike to pay for, among other things, advanced meter infrastructure.
On Aug. 7, Caledonia Township in Shiawassee County near Lansing will hold a public meeting regarding a 72,000-panel solar project intended to generate energy for Consumers Energy.
Enbridge is moving ahead with geological work for the planned tunnel for the Line 5 pipeline despite Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s pending lawsuit against the project.

National Energy News
The surge in wind and solar from 1% to 8% of U.S. electricity generation over a decade has not caused reliability issues, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.
American Indian tribes are turning to solar and wind projects as a new revenue stream.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection issues a draft request for proposals for up to 2 GW of offshore wind by 2026.
The staff of the Ohio Power Siting Board recommends that the agency’s board of directors reject developer sPower’s proposed 77-turbine wind farm until the Federal Aviation Administration and the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation can complete a review.
Eagle Point Solar’s ongoing dispute with Wisconsin utility We Energies is garnering national interest because of the implications it could have for third-party solar arrangements within monopoly utility service territories.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s proposed freeze on efficiency standards for residential furnaces and commercial water heaters could cost consumers billions.
The Public Service Company of New Mexico finds that a solar plus storageproject and natural gas-fired peaking combustion turbines are the cheapest options to replace the San Juan coal-fired power plant.
Minnesota’s new requirement that utilities consider energy storage in their resource plans may cause a shift away from natural gas-fired peaking plants.
Natural gas, diesel-battery hybrids, biodiesel and electrification are all competingto be the future of power for the country’s municipal buses.

 Michigan Energy Events  

The 63rd annual Michigan Energy Providers Conference will be held July 24 to 26 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The conference will include speakers such as FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee and CMS Energy and Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe.
National Energy Events
Attend the Clean Cities Renewable Procurement Summit in Denver, Colorado July 23-25. Register here.