A Look Back At 2020 for Michigan EIBC

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:

A Look Back At 2020 for Michigan EIBC

All of us had to adapt to difficult new circumstances in 2020. Michigan EIBC spent much of the year adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic and addressing member concerns. There were also other accomplishments that may have been overshadowed by the crisis at hand, but are nonetheless important. Please read on for a recap of our work this year.

We delved into accomplishments in the first half of the year in a previous newsletter this summer. Some of those highlights include:

-We crafted a memo to state policymakers on the most important administrative, regulatory and legislative steps to keep the advanced energy industry vibrant during and after the pandemic.

-The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) ordered DTE to improve its integrated resource plan’s approach in ways aligned with comments submitted by Michigan EIBC and other groups.

-The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) released a new database of local wind and solar zoning ordinances, a tool that was developed with insight from Michigan EIBC member companies.

In the second half of the year, some of our most notable accomplishments included:

-The antiquated cap on distributed generation in Michigan became a particularly urgent issue this fall. Michigan EIBC informed members of the media about this threat to the vibrant rooftop solar industry. Both Laura Sherman and member companies were widely quoted in media coverage. Member companies like Harvest Solar put out their own messages about the cap, which were amplified by Michigan EIBC. This pressure contributed to Consumers Energy’s key decision to raise its cap. Meanwhile, Michigan EIBC continues to be engaged with state lawmakers to enact a permanent solution to this problem. 

-A report commissioned by Michigan EIBC calculated the economic stimulus effect of an investment package into advanced energy.

-Gov. Whitmer appointed our VP of Policy Cory Connolly to the Council on Future Mobility and Electrification.

-Despite economic setbacks and job losses stemming from the pandemic, solar, wind and storage remained competitive, as seen in the continued popularity of corporate purchasing of renewable energy, which was the subject of a webinar Michigan EIBC held in collaboration with West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum and featured purchasing efforts explained by representatives from Whirlpool, the University of Michigan and Advanced Energy Economy. 

-We also increased efforts to ensure that the utility procurement of renewable energy remains open to competition from a wide range of parties. Michigan EIBC is an active participant in the MI Power Grid workgroup to set guidelines for the competitive procurement process. 

-Our first two entries in the new Energy Storage Convenings series were held this year.

-At the 8th Annual Energy Innovators Gala, Michigan EIBC member companies Barton Malow and Apex Clean Energy were honored with the Business of the Year and Project of the Year awards. Also at the event, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel revealed future plans to fight for environmental justice and University of Michigan Assistant Professor and IEI Board Member Tony Reames talked about the philosophy behind the Urban Energy Justice Lab.

-Michigan EIBC worked with the MPSC to improve draft rules governing the interconnection process so it can be smoother for advanced energy projects, and we wrote about the principles behind proper interconnection policy in an article published in Renewable Energy World.

-Dr. Sherman penned a fascinating article for Greentech Media about building electrification and how progress on that front in Michigan has implications for the nation. 

-Michigan EIBC published an article in Energy News Network about immediate steps Michigan can take to bring EVs into state fleets. In addition, the 11th EV Convening, featuring Michigan Chief Mobility Officer Trevor Pawl, educated attendees about local efforts to introduce EVs into fleets.

-The 8th Annual Virtual Energy Innovators Conference featured:

  • a keynote from Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe 
  • a chat between MPSC Chairman Dan Scripps and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Chairman Richard Kauffman
  • a presentation about game-changing energy trends from Nat Bullard of Bloomberg New Energy Finance
  • a panel discussion on the election featuring Julia Pyper of Greentech Media, Anthony Adragna of POLITICO and Zach Gorchow of Gongwer
  • a chat between Katherine Hamilton, chair of 38 North Solutions and co-host of the Energy Gang podcast, and Kwafo Adarkwa, manager of regulatory strategy at Michigan EIBC member ITC Holdings

Meet Our Interns – Lesley Ortega

 Lesley Ortega is a senior at Albion College near Battle Creek, but she originally is from Dallas, Texas. Her major is in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Law, Justice, & Society and an Anthropology minor. Her concern for the environment led her to Michigan EIBC, where she wants to be engaged in our “commitment to facilitate the expansion of renewable energy for their member companies through research & policy work, education, and advocacy,” Lesley said. She started interning in November and will be assisting Michigan EIBC with membership support, events and managing social media accounts.

Looking ahead over the next 10 years, “I see myself in a leadership position, working alongside individuals who are dedicated to improving and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all through the promotion of renewable energy,” Lesley says. 

Renewing Members

Windemuller Electric
Windemuller provides advanced technical and design services throughout Michigan and beyond. The company was established in 1954 as an electrical contractor and has since expanded into automation, communications and IT, electrical services, outdoor utilities, and renewable energy. Within those categories, we have worked on projects relating to Healthcare, Data Centers, Oil and Gas, Pharmaceuticals, Industrial Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Agricultural, and Public Works.
From sophisticated security systems for the government, to controls and automated processes for environmental cleanups or responding to emergencies on an industrial site, Windemuller is responsive and innovative. We offer a 24 hour service department that’s available 365 days a year.
With Branch offices located in Southern, Mid and Northern Michigan, Windemuller also has satellite offices in Big Rapids, Kalamazoo, Petoskey and Whitehall. Visit our Locations web page for more information.
At its heart, Windemuller is about our people and the people we serve. We are more than 200 individuals strong and serve thousands of customers of all sizes within industrial, government, municipal, and commercial entities.

With over 40 years of combined experience in the electrical utility industry, ecojiva, LLC is a full-service solar energy management system provider. ecojiva, LLC designs Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy solutions for agriculture, commercial, and industrial enterprises, and is a full-service turn-key enterprise from inception to completion. Our engineers design PV systems that provide access to power independent of the utility grid, and creates surplus power that can be returned to the grid. Founded by utility industry veteran Sridhar K. Ayer, ecojiva, LLC is committed to energy innovation in the solar industry not only as a technology provider but through education and advocacy as well. The company’s expertise also encompasses Transmission & Distribution design services, patent-pending eco-DMT™ energy management system, and ecoSEMS™ complete solar energy solutions. 

Michigan Energy News

  • WXPR radio has an in-depth story about the former iron mine site in the Upper Peninsula that Michigan EIBC member Circle Power is developing into a 300-acre solar array.
  • Michigan EIBC member Michigan Saves could be a model for a national green bank under a Biden administration.
  • PV Magazine quotes Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman in a story about the growing pressure for a value of solar study for Consumers Energy.
  • Gov. Whitmer is in the process of selecting a new MPSC commissioner to replace the departing Commissioner Sally Talberg.
  • General Motors Co. sold out Edition 1 of its new all-electric Hummer in 10 minutes.
  • The Palisades nuclear plant is going through the federal regulatory process to transfer its license from plant operator Entergy to Holtec, the company that will decommission the plant.

National Energy News

  • Electric utilities may have a legal obligation to plan for the impacts of climate change, according to a new report from the Environmental Defense Fund.
  • Amazon says it has surpassed Google as the top corporate user of renewable energy.
  • A California project to link thousands of homes into a 550-MW “virtual power plant” is the largest project of its kind yet.
  • California regulators are looking at changes to building energy efficiency standards that could require all-electric buildings.
  • A $550 million wind and battery storage project planned in Montana wins a lawsuit claiming that state regulators approved a contract with NorthWestern Energy that undercut the project’s value.
  • Oregon utility Portland General Electric invests $155 million in a wind project developed by Michigan EIBC member NextEra Energy Resources that will also include solar and battery storage components.

Michigan and National Energy Events

Register now for the next entry in the UP Clean Energy Series, to be held Jan. 14, titled “Solar Energy Case Studies – Lessons from On the Ground Projects.”

The National Regulatory Research Institute has a three-part webinar series on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Utility Rate Making.”

Due to COVID-19, PlugVolt is offering complimentary access to a webinar series that provides a guide to how to select primary and secondary cells for battery products.

Norton Rose Fulbright regularly organizes webinars featuring experts and executives of major companies, such as this one on the challenges that COVID-19 and low commodity prices pose to the energy industry.

The Clean Energy Group has a huge archive of webinars and presentations related to net metering, energy efficiency, EVs, energy storage and much more.

The Energy Storage Association has a number of upcoming and recorded webinars covering many different facets of energy storage.   


The state of Michigan has released a Request for Proposals for the Prequalification Program for Renewable Energy PPAs. Vendors who wish to bid on solar PPAs for future projects must be prequalified through this process. Access the RFP documents through SIGMA. The deadline for proposals is Dec. 21.

Indiana Michigan Power Company has issued two Request For Proposals to obtain up to 450 MW of solar or wind energy resources. Proposals are due Jan. 15, 2021.

The Green Task Force is requesting that non-profit and faith-based organizations fill out a brief survey to assess readiness for solar projects.

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.

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.