A Look Back at 2019 for Michigan EIBC

A Look Back At 2019 In Energy Innovation

 As we close out 2019, we’d like to look back on some of the highlights of the year for Michigan EIBC. Thank you to our members for making all of this possible. We’re looking forward to an equally productive and exciting 2020!
-February: Michigan EIBC holds a half-day bootcamp for legislators and staff to provide an overview of the advanced energy industry.

-February: Governor Whitmer appoints former Michigan EIBC President Dan Scripps as a commissioner of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC).

-March: Dr. Laura Sherman is announced as the new president of Michigan EIBC as Liesl Eichler Clark leaves to run the new Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

-April: Michigan EIBC VP of Policy Cory Connolly speaks about solar tax bills before the Committee on Tax Policy in the Michigan House of Representatives.

-April: Michigan EIBC’s Annual Member Meeting includes discussions with members, experts, and policy makers including House Energy Chairman Rep. Joe Bellino, MPSC Commissioners Dan Scripps and Sally Talberg, and Michigan EGLE Director Liesl Eichler Clark.

-May: Michigan EIBC’s 7th EV Convening explores state administrative actions to support EVs.

-May: Cory Connolly talks to the Michigan House Energy Committee about EVs.

-May: At the Institute for Energy Innovation’s Solar 101 event for state legislators in Lansing, panelists and the audience discuss the future of solar in light of recent regulatory changes.

-June: Gov. Whitmer delivers on changes supported by Michigan EIBC to make it easier for agricultural landowners and solar developers to work together.

-June: Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) Market Design Advisor Bill Peters describes how new market opportunities for energy storage are emerging in the Midwest at a Michigan EIBC networking event held at Varnum LLP.

-July: As policymakers and regulators contemplate how to improve the state’s grid, Michigan EIBC writes about some first steps for distribution grid modernization.

-July: Michigan EIBC holds its 8th EV Convening on EV adoption for low and moderate income communities.

-July: Michigan EIBC applauds the appointment of Tremaine Phillips as the newest MPSC commissioner.

-September: Michigan EIBC President, Laura Sherman, is named one of Michigan’s 40 Under 40 energy leaders by Midwest Energy News.

-September: An article by Dr. Sherman in Midwest Energy News highlights the rapid pace of innovation in the advanced energy industry and the importance of utilities and the industry working together.

-October: Another article by Dr. Sherman in Utility Dive explains how Michigan corporations want to invest in renewable energy, what is standing in the way and how to change the situation. A tour of Michigan EIBC member Hemlock Semiconductor also includes a panel discussion of corporate purchasing of renewables.

-October: The MPSC announces its MI Power Grid initiative, and Greentech Media’s coverage of the effort quotes Dr. Sherman.

-October: Legislators introduce the Powering Michigan Forward bill package, supported by Michigan EIBC, that will support the growing distributed solar industry. Michigan EIBC publishes a piece about the bill package in Crain’s Detroit Business.

-November: After the legislature passes bills supported by Michigan EIBC to reform the property tax treatment of rooftop solar projects, Gov. Whitmer signs the new legislation into law at the Michigan Energy Innovators Gala.

-December: At the Institute for Energy Innovation’s Energy 101 on Big Data and Smart Buildings, policy makers and EIBC members discussed energy management, customer data access, and technological advances in energy efficiency. 

Rooftop Solar Shows Strong Growth In Most Recent Annual Tracking Report

 The number of distributed generation installations in Michigan grew by over 1,950 from 2017 to a total of 5,379 installations in 2018, according to the latest annual report from the MPSC tracking participation in Michigan’s net metering program.

The combined power capacity of these installations, primarily rooftop solar, increased by 13,910 kW from 2017 to a total of 43,481 kW in 2018.

In the 2016 energy law, Michigan instituted a cap on each utility’s distributed generation program — the program is limited to 0.5% of the utility’s load for residential solar systems, 0.25% of the utility’s load for small commercial solar systems, and 0.25% of the utility’s load for methane digesters. Given the rapid growth in solar installations in Michigan, installations in each utility’s territory are quickly approaching these caps.

In the U.P., the cap was already reached in the Upper Peninsula Power Company’s territory and the utility agreed to raise the total cap to 2% in a recent contested case. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are similarly close to reaching their caps. Based on the recent MPSC report, at the end of 2018, DTE’s program was 31% full for category 1 residential installations (20 kW or less) and 8% full for category 2 small commercial installations (between 20 kW and 150 kW). According to data released by DTE Energy in October 2019 during the ongoing rate case, DTE’s distributed generation program was 53.8% full for category 1 installations and 29.4% full for category 2 installations. This means that in just ten months, interest in both the residential and commercial programs has grown significantly and the programs are on track to be fully subscribed in the near future. Based on our discussions with industry participants, we expect that Consumers Energy is likely to reach their distributed generation program cap for residential and commercial installations in mid to late 2020.

Given this situation, it is imperative for the booming distributed solar industry in Michigan and for customers who want to generate their own solar energy that the cap on distributed generation is eliminated. In October, Senator McBroom and Representative Markkanen introduced legislation as part of the Powering Michigan Forward package to eliminate the cap on the distributed generation program. It is essential that the legislature pass these bills this session to ensure that the industry is able to continue growing and supporting jobs in Michigan.  

Renewing Members

Commonwealth Associates, Inc.
Commonwealth Associates, Inc. (“Commonwealth”) is a 100% employee-owned and -managed engineering and consulting firm profiled among the 2017 Top 10 Electrical Design Firms in the nation by EC&M magazine. Every day, our team of nearly 300 project managers, engineers, environmental experts, real estate brokers, licensed UAV pilots and other team members combine their talents to influence and shape the secure energy future. We do this by collaborating and innovating to meet the emerging needs of our utility, IPP, governmental, industrial and institutional clients. We also provide leadership to the industry through our professionals’ active involvement planning and presenting at industry conferences and serving on the committees that are writing tomorrow’s standards today. Our primary focus areas include: Power Generation and Energy, including Distributed Energy Resources and Microgrids; Electrical System Studies; Transmission and Distribution Line Engineering; Substation Engineering; Environmental and Permitting Services; Land and Right of Way Services; and Owners Engineering. Headquartered in Jackson, Michigan, Commonwealth has offices in Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington; and Spokane, Washington.

Heelstone Energy
Heelstone Energy is a leading independent power producer and solar developer with expertise across the solar value chain. Heelstone is heavily involved in the development, construction, financing and operation of high value solar photovoltaic assets, having brought over 50 projects with an aggregate capacity of 275mw to operation. By investing in local communities and partnering with local developers and contractors, Heelstone works to advance clean energy goals across the United States.

Invenergy is North America’s largest independent, privately held renewable energy provider. The Company develops, owns and operates large-scale renewable and other clean energy generation and storage facilities in North America, Latin America, Japan and Europe. Invenergy is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. In Michigan, Invenergy developed and constructed the 133-turbine Gratiot County Wind project and has several additional projects under advanced development.

Metro Consulting Associates
Metro Consulting Associates (MCA) is a full service consulting firm providing land surveying, civil engineering, geographic information systems (GIS), ecological, and land acquisition services. MCA was founded in 2009 and has grown to provide a wide range of services. Areas of expertise include: utility, commercial, education, energy, governmental, healthcare, industrial, institutional, municipal, office, residential, and retail. The keys to MCA’s success are our professional relationships, outstanding reputation, and exceptional results. MCA thrives at building long term relationships with our clients through our responsiveness, service, professional integrity, staff, and experience. Today, MCA has grown to a staff of more than 75 professionals with exceptional services that continue to exceed our client’s expectations. MCA has offices in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, and Ohio.

Oracle offers a complete suite of operational applications and cloud services for electric, natural gas, and water utilities world-wide that automate core operational processes and enable compliance in a dynamic and changing industry. With the April 2016 acquisition of Opower, Oracle incorporates industry-leading behavioral energy efficiency, behavioral demand response, and customer engagement capabilities. To date, these energy programs have resulted in over seventeen terawatt-hours of cost-effective energy savings from energy efficiency and enabled over $2 billion in customer bill savings.

Our Mission
To connect the smart grid to the smart home with the only utility led Home Energy Management Solution developed for utilities worldwide.
Our Story
We have created a connection to the home that nobody else has. Powerley provides a real-time window into energy usage – for your home and for every connected appliance and device within it. By developing a constant connection with your energy, we have created an entirely new connected home experience.
You don’t need ten different apps for every connected bulb, switch, appliance and camera in your home. You only need one – the one that allows you to manage your energy and your home. Via Powerley, all your smart devices work harmoniously together to deliver a personalized experience that is enriched with true energy insight.
Bridging the smart home to the smart grid is no small feat. Our solution was built hand-in-hand with energy utilities, the industry that powers our daily lives – stretching from energy plants to the light bulbs in your home. Through the utilities, your home is already connected. Powerley just adds the extra ingredients to make it intelligent.

Tradewind Energy
Tradewind is one of the largest independent renewable energy project development companies in the U.S. With over 90 full-time employees in its Lenexa headquarters, Tradewind’s success is built upon the experience and expertise of its management team and professional staff. Our team of subject matter experts in wind resource, mapping systems, environmental studies, permitting, land acquisition, and power marketing places a unique emphasis on the development craft which is unparalleled in the US renewable energy market. Tradewind takes great pride in its ability to deliver affordable wind and solar energy to diverse markets while maintaining an uncompromising commitment to long-term project quality. Throughout its history, Tradewind has partnered with commercial and industrial customers, investor-owned utilities, cooperatives, and municipalities to develop mutually-beneficial low-cost wind energy projects that directly benefit the ultimate residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural customers.
Tradewind has signed a 200MW PPA with Google for its Cimarron Bend project in Kansas and is actively in discussions with corporate customers across the country interested in our wind and solar portfolio. Along with close to 3 GW of wind and solar projects across 25 states that are either operating, in-construction or contracted, Tradewind, through its subsidiaries has a 9 GW pipeline of wind and solar projects under development. Tradewind has enjoyed a successful financing partnership with Enel Green Power North America since 2006. EGP-NA is a leading owner and operator of renewable energy plants in North America with projects operating and under development in 21 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. EGP-NA owns and operates over 100 plants with an installed capacity exceeding 2.5 GW powered by renewable hydropower, wind, geothermal and solar energy. EGP-NA has more than doubled its total installed capacity since 2010.

TRC Environmental is considered a pioneer in groundbreaking scientific and engineering developments since the 1960s, TRC is a national engineering services, consulting and construction management firm that provides integrated services to the energy, environmental and infrastructure markets. TRC serves a broad range of clients in government and industry, implementing complex projects from initial concept to delivery and operation.  

Michigan Energy News

  • The large amount of electricity used by marijuana growers has some calling for more attention to be paid on ways to increase efficiency in Michigan’s nascent cannabis industry.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council publishes a review of the most important events for energy in Michigan in 2019.
  • The MPSC accepts part of Upper Peninsula Power Co.’s integrated resource plan, such as the utility’s pursuit of a contract for 125 MW of solar power, but rejects a proposed natural gas-fired power plant.
  • General Motors says it will loan $40 million to a startup that wants to use GM’s recently closed plant in Lordstown, Ohio, to make electric trucks.
  • The city of Petoskey still plans to install solar panels on its city hall building.
  • Gov. Whitmer’s Upper Peninsula Task Force is exploring contingency plans with natural gas liquids suppliers to the U.P. to improve the region’s energy resiliency.
  • The city of Detroit will receive $4 million as part of a settlement with an LED manufacturer over thousands of defective LED streetlights.

National Energy News

  • Advocacy groups warn that transmission congestion in the Upper Midwest threatens to dramatically slow down the deployment of wind and solar.
  • The city of Indianapolis has a new initiative to assist low-income residents with footing the cost of solar panels.
  • An Ohio state senator says that the Lordstown electric truck facility, combined with a planned EV battery manufacturing plant turns the Mahoning valley region from the rust belt to the “future belt.”
  • The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a plan to eventually transition the Utah natural gas-fired plant that will provide much of the city’s electricity to run on hydrogen.
  • The San Jose City Council votes in favor of a plan to turn PG&E into a customer-owned cooperative.
  • Arcadia, which bills itself as a “community solar manager,” is a startup quickly expanding into new markets.
  • The University of Illinois finalizes a contract expected to triple the school’s renewable energy production.

Michigan Energy Events
Michigan EIBC member Michigan Energy Options is holding a winter solar webinar series. The first webinar, on Dec. 13, is on the topic of “Solar Plus Storage as Resiliency” and will feature Clean Energy Group VP and Project Director Seth Mullendore.  

National Energy Events

Infocast’s Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit is in San Diego from Feb. 4 to Feb. 6, 2020.


 Orion Township in Oakland County has issued an RFP for a design build project to provide a 15.5-kW solar power system by Dec. 31, 2019. Potential bidders can view this RFP here.

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.