Community Solar Legislation, Meet Brianna Gerard and More in This Week’s Advanced Energy News

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:

Source: Renewable Energy World

Bills To Accelerate Community Solar in Michigan Introduced

New bills introduced to the Michigan state legislature this week would jumpstart the community solar market in Michigan, creating a framework that enables communities to build solar projects that can pass energy bill savings along to households that would not otherwise have access to distributed solar. Michigan EIBC strongly supports these bills, HB 4715 and HB 4716.

Writing in Renewable Energy World, Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman gives the context around community solar in Michigan, what has held it back and what principles should guide a community solar framework.

There are many reasons why someone might not be able to build distributed solar arrays themselves at their own residence. They might be renters or they might not have the space for solar arrays or the upfront cash, to name a few examples. That is why community solar is important so access to distributed generation can be more widespread. Michigan has had success with community solar projects—such as the East Lansing Community Solar Park, developed by Michigan EIBC member Michigan Energy Options in partnership with the Lansing Board of Water and Light (Lansing BWL), the City of East Lansing, and Michigan EIBC member Pivot Energy. 

But aside from cases like the East Lansing project where the local utility embraced the project, community solar lacks a framework to move ahead in most of the state. Community solar only accounts for 6% of the total solar capacity in Michigan, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 

These bills would fix the barriers holding back community solar in several ways:

HB 4715: Introduced by Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), this bill directs the Michigan
Public Service Commission to establish an applicable bill credit rate that results in robust
community solar development and access to all customer classes.

HB 4716: Introduced by Rep. Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton), this bill requires electric providers to allow and enable community solar and provide for third-party ownership and guaranteed bill crediting.

Don’t miss our article in Renewable Energy World for much more about how Michigan can become a leader in community solar. 


Welcome Brianna Gerard As New Director of Membership and Events

We are sad to see Nicole Forward is moving on from Michigan EIBC after seven great years as our vice president of development. We wish her well in her new endeavors and hope she’ll join us at one of our future events. But now we have the pleasure to announce that Brianna Gerard is starting as our new director of membership and events!

Brianna comes to us after over two decades experience in the nonprofit and healthcare sectors. A native of Harbor Springs and Traverse City, Brianna has always felt a close connection to the lakes and rivers that make Michigan a beautiful place. That passion led her to the Michigan Environmental Council, where she worked first as a volunteer and then for five years in fundraising and development. There, she was fortunate to count former MEC President and state senator Lana Pollack as a mentor.

Brianna is a graduate of Western Michigan University and lives in Haslett, outside East Lansing, with her husband and two children. They take every opportunity they can to head north and hike in northern Michigan nature preserves and boat on Little Traverse Bay and Silver Lake.

Welcome Brianna to Michigan EIBC! 

Michigan Radio Covers ‘Battle for Rooftop Solar’

 Ian Olmsted, president of Michigan EIBC member Peninsula Solar, eloquently sums up the state of rooftop solar in Michigan in an interview for a Michigan Radio story that aired this week. Even with the pandemic, Peninsula Solar has been having its busiest year ever. Solar is widely accepted by UP residents who want relief from high electricity rates. But nevertheless Michigan is not realizing its full potential in distributed generation. “Michigan should be a boom town — a boom state — for solar. And we’re not seeing it, we’re lagging behind. We get a D minus for our policy,” Olmsted said in the story.

The answer, as Michigan EIBC has been stressing, is to remove the cap on how much distributed generation the utilities have to interconnect. Peninsula Solar could be having an even busier year but has had to turn away potential customers “because we know that the cap has been reached and the utility is not going to interconnect them,” Peninsula Solar’s Ben Schimpf said in the story.

Check out the whole piece.

Michigan Energy News

  • The two largest wind projects in Michigan are now Isabella I and II, which recently began operating for DTE, and were developed by Michigan EIBC member Apex Clean Energy. In addition to the Isabella projects, DTE also announces that the Fairbanks Wind project in the Upper Peninsula is now operational.
  • DE Shaw Renewable Investments begins construction on the 79-MW Assembly 3 solar project, which has a long-term power purchase agreement with DTE.
  • As part of her announcement that state-owned buildings are going 100% renewable, Gov. Whitmer also announces the creation of a cross-departmental task force that will look for opportunities to build solar projects on state-owned property.
  • DTE reveals that Detroit-based real estate developer Bedrock and the St. Joseph Mercy Health System have joined its MIGreenPower voluntary renewable energy pricing program.
  • Consumers Energy says it hopes to build 200 EV fast-charging stations and 2,000 chargers at homes and businesses over the next three years as part of its PowerMIDrive program.
  • Conflict of interest questions have been raised around a recent appointee to the Utility Consumer Participation Board.

National Energy News

  • The U.S. Department of Energy is offering $8.25 billion in loan guarantees for transmission projects.
  • Burying transmission lines along road and rail rights of way is an underexplored method to get over roadblocks stopping transmission infrastructure and spur the proliferation of renewable energy projects.
  • U.S. Sen, Tom Carper (D-Del.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says the EPA should adopt anti-pollution standards that would end the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.
  • The governor of Maine wants a 10-year moratorium on offshore wind development in state waters.
  • The PJM Interconnection proposes to modify the controversial Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) so that it does not apply to state-subsidized resources like renewable energy and nuclear.
  • For about four seconds on April 24, 95% of California’s power supply was from renewable resources.

Michigan and National Energy Events

 The 25th Michigan Energy Providers Conference 2021 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island from July 29-30 will provide a unique perspective of the future of energy and related policy needs in Michigan, and offer an opportunity to build relationships with others in the industry. CDC guidelines will be followed and all proper protocols will be taken to ensure a safe event. Conference registration will open soon. The U.S. Energy Storage Association Annual Conference & Expo (#ESACon21) will convene December 1-3 in Phoenix to bring together buyers, sellers, investors, and leaders in the energy storage industry for an event focused on driving deals and business in the energy storage industry. The #ESACon21 is a must attend for anyone looking to expand their business, invest in, or develop partnerships in the energy storage industry. Learn more here. Gov. Whitmer created the Council on Climate Solutions as an advisory body to help formulate and implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The council is holding a series of meetings throughout the year on various topics related to cutting Michigan’s CO2 emissions and recommending solutions for communities disproportionately affected by climate change. Go to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Office of Climate and Energy website to learn how to join these meetings.

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.    


Groundwork Center is seeking a Clean Energy Program Specialist to support Groundwork’s Clean Energy Program in northern Michigan. The application is due May 10Read more about the position and how to apply here.

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is seeking applicants for the 1 Hotels Fellowship, due by May 15. E2 says: “the 1 Hotels Fellowship at E2 is designed to support early to mid-career businesspeople who seek to tackle pressing environmental issues through projects that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Six selected fellows will receive $20,000 each and work with E2 staff to implement their projects for the 2021-2022 program cycle.” Learn more here.
 Centrepolis is launching its new C3 Accelerator, funded in part by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, New Economy Initiative and the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator.  The accelerator will offer a total pool of $275,000 in funding including grants, equity-free interest-free investments, and services to support product development and scaling of cleantech, climatech, and circular economy technologies. A portion of these investments will be dedicated to support ventures led by women, people of color, veterans and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. Applications are due May 31, and can be submitted through this link.  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.