Chart House Energy Recognized for Diverse Hiring; EIBC Talks EVs with Michigan House; Solar 101

Michigan EIBC Member Chart House Energy Bringing Jobs to Low-Income Communities

The solar industry has been one of the brightest success stories in the American economy for several years, but, as has surfaced in the news recently, despite all that growth the industry is not particularly diverse.

One company changing that is EIBC member Chart House Energy, which is drawing employees from overlooked communities to install solar arrays in those same communities, as detailed in a recent article from the Energy News Network.

Chart House Energy’s efforts come from tax incentives for federal “Opportunity Zones” – communities around the country that the U.S. Census classifies as particularly economically-distressed. Chart House gets tax benefits from building projects in these zones, and at the same time commits to hiring from the local community.

The independent power producer, founded in 2009, sees that commitment as good business.

“The impact on a community is three to five times as much if you hire someone and get them a permanent job than the energy savings and other side benefits from installing renewable energy in the community,” Chart House Energy President Rob Rafson said in the article.

The 2019 U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study found that women and African-Americans are underrepresented in the solar industry. For example, only 8% of the industry is made up of African-Americans. Out of 106 workers Chart House Energy has trained, 57 are African-American.

Chart House Energy has a project in an Opportunity Zone in Ypsilanti, and others are under development in Grand Rapids, Flint, Muskegon and other communities.  

Michigan EIBC Makes Case for Electric Vehicles before Michigan House Committee

On May 15 in Lansing, the Michigan House Energy Committee heard testimony from EIBC VP of Development & Community Projects Cory Connolly and EVolution Electric Vehicle Systems President Stuart Irwin on the state of the dynamic and quickly growing electric vehicle industry and market in Michigan.

The legislature is in the driving seat for a few issues that could shape the future of EVs in Michigan, including more equitable registration fees for electric vehicles and incentives for charging infrastructure.

As lawmakers consider these issues, EIBC is focused on initiatives “to ensure Michigan stays at the forefront” of the EV industry, Connolly said in his remarks. A recent report from the Clean Energy Trust found that Michigan had more jobs in the broad advanced transportation sector than any other state.

Challenges for EVs include the upfront costs of infrastructure, Connolly said. EIBC’s 2018 Electric Vehicle Convenings report laid out policy ideas to overcome EV challenges, such as dedicated tariffs and meters for charging stations.

Irwin told the committee that compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, EVs are safer, cheaper and quicker to build and offer a superior customer experience. The problem of “range anxiety” is fading as Tesla vehicles set a “new normal” for increased range, Irwin said.

EIBC has fought for regulations that allow EVs to keep advancing. Faster charging and greater distribution of charging stations are key for further reductions in range anxiety. In its recent rate case, DTE proposed that in its’ Charging Forward EV pilot program that direct current fast charging (DCFC) stations should have to pay a demand charge. But in testimony, EIBC urged the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject this proposal, showing how such charges would be extremely high given current EV penetration levels. The MPSC accepted EIBC’s argument.

EIBC will be back before the legislature on May 21, when EIBC President Laura Sherman, along with three representatives from EIBC members—Michigan Solar Solutions President Mark Hagerty, Michigan CAT Advanced Energy Systems Manager Kevin O’Connell and Hemlock Semiconductor Business Development Manager Phil Rausch—will testify at a Senate Energy and Technology Committee hearing.   

May 22 Solar 101 Legislator Education Event

 It is a fast-moving time for solar energy in Michigan. A recent PSC decision has changed how much value customers can get from rooftop solar and new opportunities for solar developers could be opening up as regulators and legislators explore loosening rules to build solar on agricultural land.

Against that backdrop, EIBC and its partner organization, the Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI), are holding an event at the Michigan Capitol to continue education and discussion about the status and future of solar power. The Solar 101 Lunch and Learn panel discussion and networking luncheon will be held on Wednesday, May 22 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at the Mackinac Conference Room in the Michigan House Office Building in Lansing. 

Following a networking opportunity and boxed lunch, a panel discussion with Q & A will start at noon, featuring EDF Renewables VP of New Markets Myles Burnsed, 5 Lakes Energy Senior Consultant and Michigan Energy Options Board Member David Gard, and Harvest Energy Solutions VP of Sales & Marketing Lucas Olinyk.

To attend, please RSVP here.

Also on May 22, the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is coordinating two tours of the Delta Township solar facility 15 minutes west of downtown Lansing. This is a great opportunity for EIBC members to meet state legislators. Electric buses will be parked outside the Capitol on Capitol Ave at 9:00 am and 3:00 pm to take tour attendees to and from the Delta Township solar facility. If you take the 9:00 am tour, you will arrive back at the Capitol around 10:30 am. If you take the 3:00 pm tour, you will arrive back at the Capitol around 4:30 pm.
A second bus has been added for the 3:00 pm tour. 
For more information, please contact Joanna Lewis at the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum at

Michigan Energy News

  • If the example of other states that have decriminalized cannabis is any guide, Michigan’s burgeoning cannabis industry will create an explosion of electric load demand, according to a Bloomfield Hills attorney.
  • High fees for electric vehicles coming as part of changes in Michigan’s road funding system are not proportionate to how much EVs are actually used in the state, according to several clean energy groups.
  • Renergetica USA is asking Ogemaw County for a special use permit so the developer, the North American arm of the Italian company Renergetica, can build two 2-MW solar farms to provide energy under a contract with Consumers Energy.
  • Livingston County is just one of the communities around Michigan where residents are seeing more and more reason to install solar arrays.
  • A May 20 meeting in Bay City seeks to educate citizens about wind, solar and how local laws affect them. Bay County includes Kawkawlin Township, where voters recently recalled a township supervisor for voting against a moratorium on wind turbines.
  • Traverse City Power & Light approves two solar projects, one that will expand an existing solar array next to a wind turbine, and the other involving the utility buying 7.6 MW from a downstate array.

National Energy News

  • By about 2023 solar power will be cheaper than natural gas-fired plants “almost everywhere around the world,” according to a Wood Mackenzie analyst.
  • South Carolina legislators pass a bipartisan pro-solar bill that would lift the state’s 2% cap on net metering and remove a limit on how many solar facilities can be leased by third parties, among other provisions.
  • The Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, which provides energy to the city of Chicago and nearby cities, is increasingly turning to solar power, with several solar arrays in the works near Chicago.
  • Vermont utility Green Mountain Power launches a residential battery storage pilot program that is part of the utility’s “vision of a battery system in every single home.”
  • Virginia Dominion Energy failed to fully consider solar plus storage as an option in its latest resource plan, opponents argue.
  • Four years of microgrid demonstration projects in California show that microgrids have “clear value” for helping renewable energy grow, among other uses.
  • The U.S. electric vehicle supply chain faces numerous hurdles, especially when compared to China which has developed its EV supply chain for years.
  • Recently elected U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) is one of several House Democrats who want to extend the wind production tax credit beyond 2020 and the solar investment tax credit beyond 2022.
  • Minnesota regulators approve an agreement for Xcel Energy to provide wind energy to a planned Google data center.
  • Solar advocates criticize a proposed bill in Nevada, saying it unnecessarily restricts benefits for community solar projects.
  • Billions of dollars in energy savings could be on the line if the U.S. Department of Energy moves ahead with a proposed reversal of lightbulb efficiency standards.
  • The developer planning to turn the site of the last coal plant in New England into a center for offshore wind development also wants to install 400 MW of battery storage at the site.
  • A new tariff approved by Florida regulators for utility Tampa Electric Company allows customers to source up to 95% of their power from solar and reduce the fuel component of their bills accordingly.

Michigan Energy Events  

Attend the 2019 Michigan Clean Energy Conferencerunning from May 21-23 in Traverse City.

Save the date: Institute for Energy Innovation Energy 101: Solar on May 22 in Lansing. Register here.

Save the date for the U.P. Energy Summit on Friday, June 14 at Northern Michigan University. Free to attend. Additional details will be made available on the U.P. Energy Summit website.

The National Coalition for Community Capital’s ComCap19 conference, held June 11 to June 13 in Detroit, will include a June 12 panel on how to create local green energy economies through crowdfunding, PACE financing and cooperatives. Speakers include Bali Kumar, CEO of Lean & Green Michigan, an EIBC member. More information here:

The IEEE Transportation Electrification Conference & Expo (ITEC) will be held in Novi, MI. 19-21 June 2019. (ITEC’19) is aimed at helping the industry in the transition from conventional vehicles to advanced electrified vehicles.

National Energy Events    DISCOUNT for Michigan EIBC members to Advanced Energy Now | East • June 13 • Richmond, VA: Join us at AEE’s new regional energy policy conference, Advanced Energy Now | East, to network with industry leaders and work on an action agenda for growing your business. Full agenda and speaker bios available – HERE. For registration code, EIBC members should reach out to

Attend the Clean Cities Renewable Procurement Summit in Denver, Colorado July 23-25. Register here. Attend the Grid Evolution Summit hosted by SEPA on July 29 – August 1, 2019 | Washington, DC