- Newsletter (395)
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:
New Clean Energy Jobs Training Efforts Part of Michigan COVID Recovery Plan
Gov. Whitmer announced the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan this week, and one of the planks of the plan is directed at training workers for the state’s growing clean energy sector.
A Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity program that connects unemployed and unemployed Michiganders with training and resources “will prioritize residents from underserved or economically distressed communities to provide them with the skills needed for entry into registered apprenticeships in the energy sector to help drive Michigan’s energy transition,” according to the governor’s announcement. The expanded training program is one of many policies that make up the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan, such as ramped-up vaccine distribution, the Michigan Mainstreet Initiative, and the Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative.
“This jobs program will give more Michigan residents job training to access good-paying jobs in the advanced energy sector, which continues to be one of the most resilient and fast-growing parts of the state’s economy,” Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman said in reaction to the news.
Also this week, the Michigan Department of Transportation said it would provide a grant to improve road infrastructure around GM Factory ZERO, the revamped Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center that will produce electric vehicles. The grant is expected to support 2,200 jobs at the EV plant.
Federal Court Knocks Down Trump EPA Rule On Carbon Emissions
Just before the inauguration, a court decision came down that could have a momentous impact on energy policy under President Biden. On Jan. 19, a federal appeals court in D.C. struck down the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency rule on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, which had replaced the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.
The Trump rule rejected the Clean Power Plan’s approach of setting statewide targets for carbon emissions, instead finding that the EPA only has the authority to reduce emissions from individual power plants. This court ruling, however, reasserts the agency’s authority to require carbon emissions cuts across power plants. As a result of this ruling, the Biden administration may be able to more quickly draft new climate rules.
How could this affect Michigan? When the Trump administration repealed the Clean Power Plan in 2017, the reaction in Michigan was that not much will change because the state’s regulations and utility plans were already driving the energy sector toward less coal and more renewable energy. Legal experts, however, are saying that the Biden administration is unlikely to “reboot” the Clean Power Plan, and may go in a different direction that will hold up under court challenges. What could be different this time has more to do with Congress than EPA. Ambitious policies to cut emissions like a national clean electricity standard are on the table for both the White House and Congress. Such a standard could mandate that states including Michigan move toward even greater use of renewable energy for generation.
State Building Code Update Represents An Efficiency and Electrification Opportunity
Michigan is updating its statewide building codes this year, creating an opportunity to encourage energy efficiency and electrification across the state. A recent, in-depth article in MiBiz explains the stakes: the codes are updated only every six years, and it can be difficult for local governments to implement codes that are stricter than the statewide codes. Michigan cities that want to go further to make their building stock more energy-efficient, like Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Traverse City, would benefit from a statewide code that reflects their goals, as the Michigan Environmental Council’s Charlotte Jameson explains in the article.
The codes also can contain provisions that make buildings “electrification-ready”—meaning they come built with the ability to switch appliances from natural gas to electricity. Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman wrote about this topic for Greentech Media last year. Michigan buildings predominantly use natural gas, and electrification is a tougher sell in colder climates, but electrification-friendly building codes would be a big step forward.
We’re Hiring an Energy Policy Expert
The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC) and Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI) are hiring a full-time energy policy expert to support our expanding regulatory, legislative, and industry sector-specific efforts.
The deadline for applying is Feb. 10, 2021. Details about the desired qualifications for the job and how to apply are on the Michigan EIBC website.
Development Solutions Midwest LLC provides services which lead to reducing our clients energy costs. We help reduce energy use through; energy purchasing costs; energy audits; strategic energy plans; ISO 50001; utility incentives; and project management.
Michigan Energy News
- Ann Arbor officials are lobbying the legislature to pass a bill allowing community choice aggregation.
- A planned affordable housing development in Detroit will use the utility bill savings from solar panels to subsidize rent and help residents with expenses like medical bills.
- Michigan co-ops should find ways to get out of a contract in which they buy power from inefficient coal plants in Ohio and Indiana, the Sierra Club and other groups are arguing.
- The Biden administration’s likely positions toward the auto industry and EVs represent a “critical opportunity” for Michigan, Nicholas Occhipinti, government affairs director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, tells the Detroit News.
- The Michigan Public Service Commission decision to cut the rate received by Consumers Energy distributed generation customers may change the role of residential battery storage.
- The Sierra Club receives a court victory in its challenge of an air permit for DTE’s new Blue Water Energy Center natural gas-fired power plant.
- The dispute over the Line 5 pipeline is also causing tensions with Canadian officials who say the pipeline is important for the local economy.
National Energy News
- Richard Glick is named chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and he says that transmission reform and the removal of barriers to clean energy in regulated wholesale markets are among his priorities.
- California startup Swell Energy gets a contract with Hawaiian Electric to install solar and batteries at 6,000 homes across the islands to serve as a virtual power plant for the utility.
- A Duke Energy Florida proposed plan includes charging stations and earlier coal plant retirements.
- EnergySage announces a new online marketplace meant to be a clearinghouse for community solar subscriptions.
- Department of the Interior agencies are trying to clarify the process for permitting offshore wind.
Michigan and National Energy Events
Alain Godeau, former president of Price Waterhouse Canada International, will present his vision for a climate-friendly electric power system and the main obstacles to achieving it in a Jan. 26 webinar titled “Changing Our Energy Systems: A New Path Toward Sustainable Clean Energy.” The discussion will be moderated by former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. Register here. The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s 2021 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference will be from Feb. 16 to Feb. 19. Register here.
Michigan EIBC member Lean & Green Michigan is holding its first webinar of the year on Feb. 3. The 2021 PACE Market Report will include a deep dive into the latest PACE projects and an inside look at what to expect in the Michigan PACE market for 2021. Registration is open now.
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.
Centrepolis is offering the Michigan Cleantech Hardware Accelerator program as funded by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The program supports Michigan-based entrepreneurs and small businesses who are developing cleantech hardware products or processes that provide an energy efficiency or energy waste reduction benefit. Funding can be applied for to support product development and demonstration activities. Contact Dan Radomski email@example.com or visit https://www.centrepolisaccelerator.com/Programs/CleanTech.
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.