Call for Action on Distributed Generation, Protests Against FERC on PURPA, Michigan Manufacturing Contest

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:

Michigan EIBC Calls for Urgent Action on Distributed Generation Legislation

When the Michigan Senate Energy and Technology Committee last month passed resolutions rather than passing legislation to lift the caps on distributed generation, Michigan EIBC said it would keep pushing for meaningful legislative action to eliminate the caps and allow solar installers to keep meeting consumer demand for solar at their homes and businesses.

That work continues. In a letter sent this month to Energy and Technology Committee chair Sen. Dan Lauwers and House Energy Committee Joe Bellino, Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman warned of the urgent need for action. The distributed generation cap for the Upper Peninsula Power Co. was reached on Sept. 28. The letter also discusses information indicating that Consumers Energy is getting close to hitting its cap, with both the residential and commercial programs more than 89% full.

“Once these DG caps are reached, customers and solar installers have absolutely no certainty that they will be interconnected to the grid, no guarantees of timelines or fees currently afforded to small solar customers, no required dispute resolution process, and no idea how or if the energy they produce will be credited,” Sherman wrote. “Our members and their employees are staring down a serious, unknown cliff, and without action from you and your Committees the solar industry in Michigan is likely to suffer the loss of many well-paying jobs.”

The governor’s recent executive order puts a new spotlight on the need to accelerate renewable energy deployment in Michigan, and Michigan EIBC will continue to pressure the legislature to act soon.  

Legal Protests of FERC’s Enforcement of PURPA Continue

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) has been one of the most important policies for the growth of renewable energy projects.The law has been in the news frequently this year due to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decisions that change how PURPA is enforced. Renewable energy advocates like Michigan EIBC National Associate Member the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have expressed concerns that these changes will lead to new barriers for projects that have historically been able to use PURPA to sign contracts with utilities.

This fall, SEIA and two Michigan EIBC member companies, Pine Gate Renewables and Southern Current, challenged a recent FERC that they say will make it more difficult for smaller solar projects to become “qualifying facilities” for contracts under PURPA. Specifically, in September FERC denied a Montana solar project qualifying facility status on the basis that the project is too large. But the criteria FERC used for judging the size of the project represents “a sweeping reversal of established precedents on which Pine Gate, and the renewable energy industry as a whole, have continuously relied for over four decades,” Pine Gate’s legal challenge said.

Similarly, FERC’s September order “upends 40 years of Commission precedent regarding the interpretation of the term ‘power production capacity’ in a way that will severely prejudice the development of small power production facilities,” Southern Current’s filing said.

For more background on this ongoing debate, read this article that summarizes the PURPA challenges.  

Hemlock Semiconductor Nominated for ‘The Coolest Thing Made in Michigan’

The Michigan Manufacturers Association has opened voting for “The Coolest Thing Made in Michigan” People’s Choice Award. The ultra-pure polysilicon manufactured by Michigan EIBC member Hemlock Semiconductor is among the 27 Michigan-made products nominated for the award. Members of the public can vote for their favorite four products in the first round, which runs through Oct. 23. Read about the award and how to vote here.  

The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC) invites you to join us for the 8th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala taking place on Thursday, November 12 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm EST via Zoom.

During the gala, we will announce and celebrate this year’s Business of the Year and Project of the Year as voted on by the Michigan EIBC membership.

We are excited to announce that the opening speaker for the gala is Dr. Tony G. Reames, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability and director of the Urban Energy Justice Lab.

Dr. Reames conducts research in the emerging field of energy justice, investigating fair and equitable access to affordable, reliable, efficient and clean energy, and seeks to understand the production and persistence of spatial, racial, and socioeconomic residential energy disparities. He teaches a course on green development. Dr. Reames has a PhD in public administration, a Masters in engineering management, and a BS in civil engineering. Dr. Reames is also a licensed professional engineer and US Army veteran. He is a board member of the Institute for Energy Innovation.

The keynote speaker is Dana Nessel, Attorney General for the State of Michigan.

RSVP Today! 

4:30 – 5:00 pm – Pre-Gala Happy Hour
5:00 – 6:00 pm – Gala Program

Sponsorship opportunities are available for this event and can be found on the Michigan EIBC website.

Event Sponsors

Gigawatt Level

Megawatt Level

Kilowatt Level

More information on Keynote Speaker:
Dana Nessel took office as Michigan’s Attorney General on January 1, 2019. Nessel honed her skills with the Wayne County Prosecutor before starting her practice as a defender of constitutional rights and the rights of indigent defendants, and as a premier litigator of LGBTQ issues. She challenged Michigan’s bans on adoption and marriage for same-sex couples with DeBoer v. Snyder; the landmark US Supreme Court case legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Nessel founded the Fair Michigan Foundation and with the Wayne County Prosecutor created the Fair Michigan Justice Project to prosecute hate crimes. A University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School graduate, Nessel lives with her wife, Alanna Maguire, and their twin sons, Alex and Zach.

New Members

Climax SolarClimax Solar is the pinnacle of solar power. We provide world class service to bring you the best products in the solar industry. We are here to help you with all of your solar needs.

SWCA Environmental ConsultantsWe at SWCA are the problem solvers. We are the scientists, the planners, the technical specialists, and the creative thinkers.
Since 1981, SWCA has helped public and private clients overcome environmental challenges and move their projects forward. Our 100% employee-owned firm offers comprehensive environmental planning, regulatory compliance, and natural and cultural resources management services. We work together to understand the full life cycle of any project, from inception to completion.
In the face of rapid environmental, economic, and societal changes, our purpose is simple: to preserve natural and cultural resources for tomorrow while enabling projects that benefit people today. We do that by offering a suite of environmental consulting services combined with local knowledge, regulatory expertise, and high-quality service. We build long-term, trusting relationships with our clients and guide their projects to successful completion.
With a nationwide presence, SWCA is able to rapidly pool resources and respond to our clients’ needs.  

Renewing Members

The Christman CompanyChristman is a self perform builder, construction manager, and general contractor, in business for over 120 years, based in Michigan and with a footprint in the mid-south region. With average revenue around $800M, and a diverse, talented group of professionals, our capabilities fit for a broad range of project types and size.

Elevate EnergyWe design and implement programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most.Elevate Energy seeks to create a world in which everyone has clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and communities — no matter who they are or where they live. Making the benefits and services of the clean energy economy accessible to everyone is how we fight climate change while supporting equity.
We want to work with everyone we can to help them reduce their energy costs and improve their quality of life — from homeowners, renters, and building owners, to nonprofit organizations, utilities, and municipalities. Our team builds strong connections in the places we work and delivers high-quality programs and services that contribute to healthy, thriving communities.

UplightUplight is the leading provider of end-to-end customer-centric technology solutions dedicated solely to serving the energy ecosystem. More than 80 utilities around the globe use Uplight solutions to power their customer energy experience. Uplight was established in 2019 by combining the acquisitions of EEme, EnergySavvy, FirstFuel, and Ecotagious with Tendril’s data analytics platform and Simple Energy’s consumer engagement marketplace. Uplight creates a more sustainable future by empowering customers in a way that the sum is greater than the parts—bringing together all of the pieces of customer energy action management, residential and commercial. 

Michigan Energy News

  • The U.S. Department of Energy awards several companies $5 million to use Michigan’s electrical grid as a testing ground for how increased adoption of EVs could have cybersecurity implications.
  • Amazon announces a prototype of an electric delivery vehicle being developed for the giant company by Plymouth-based Rivian.
  • DTE Energy is reportedly considering selling or spinning off its non-utility businesses including pipelines and industrial projects.
  • DTE denies the reports of non-utility asset sales as speculative, but such deals may be increasingly likely due to underlying market conditions.
  • U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette writes that “the Great Lakes State is a key player in the Trump Administration’s energy strategy.”
  • The Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action praise Gov. Whitmer’s recent executive order, writing that the governor has “launched Michigan’s transition to a more healthy, low-carbon future that will also stimulate the economy and put people back to work.”

National Energy News

  • In what FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee described as a “landmark action,” FERC declares it will consider incorporating the effects of state and regional carbon tax policies into its rate structures.
  • Calibrant Energy, a new venture between Macquarie Capital and Siemens, seeks to enter the market of distributed solar, storage and microgrids services for C&I customers.
  • School bus manufacturer Blue Bird said there is “unprecedented interest” in electric school buses with year-over-year sales soaring 250%.
  • California plans to spend $384 million on charging infrastructure, hydrogen refueling infrastructure, zero- and near-zero-carbon fuel production and other elements of a plan to move toward zero-emission transportation.
  • Two developers of non-light-water nuclear reactors receive $160 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Five governors of New England states say in a letter that the New England Independent System Operator needs to be reformed because it is “based on a market design that is misaligned with our States’ clean energy mandates and thereby fails to recognize the full value of our States’ ratepayer-funded investments in clean energy resources.”

Online Resources

Due to the number of events that have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, we are sharing some online webinars and tutorials on advanced energy topics that may be of interest.
 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.

The Small Business Association of Michigan has many online resources including Youtube webinars and daily video briefings about COVID-19 and how small businesses in Michigan can cope.

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. 

Michigan Energy Events

On Oct. 22, the Michigan Cogeneration Association presents a virtual event on “CHP’s Critical Role in Renewable Energy Projects,” featuring Kevin O’Connell, Advanced Energy Systems Manager for Michigan EIBC member Michigan CAT. Register now.

The 2nd annual Zero Net Energy Residential Conference is bringing together state and regional experts, energy efficiency contractors, solar contractors, homeowners to learn about zero net energy homes at this virtual event on Oct. 20-22Register here.

Join the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for an Oct. 29 webinar about an upcoming request for proposals (RFP) for Power Purchase Agreements at more than a dozen potential solar sites in Southwest Michigan. Sign up here.

Register for Michigan EIBC’s Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on Nov. 12.

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business is holding its inaugural Ross Energy WeekNov. 16-20, including a Renewable Energy Case Competition and Energy Conference.   

National Energy Events

Co_Invest Cleantech 2020, Clean Energy Trust annual flagship event, will be held virtually on Oct. 22, featuring an insider’s look at the Midwest’s emerging clean technologies and exclusive access to innovation leaders.

The Great Plains Institute is holding a webinar series on the Midwestern clean fuels policy. Learn more here.


The Kent County Department of Public Works is looking for an anchor tenant for its planned Sustainable Business Park. Learn about the RFP here.

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 to find out more information including how a building can apply.