- Newsletter (385)
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:
Modernize Michigan’s Regulations to Address Reliability Problems
2021 has been a year where electric reliability is in the spotlight, and for the wrong reasons. We started the year with blackouts in Texas and misinformation about the role of renewable energy. Then this summer has had a devastating loss of power in Louisiana, as well as several mass power outages in Michigan, including the August incident that saw around 900,000 customers lose power, and most recently, over 154,000 customers in September.
Like the Texas incident, the outages in Michigan are forcing policymakers to confront the causes of reliability problems and determine solutions. This may be an opportunity to integrate distributed energy resources, performance-based regulation and other approaches that Michigan EIBC has long supported as part of grid modernization efforts.
Energy storage has already helped customers be more resilient in the face of the recent power outages. As Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman wrote in Greentech Media, the state’s utilities are not yet taking advantage of the full value of storage to shore up resiliency. While many of the changes that need to be made have to do with Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) rules that are outside the state’s authority, the utilities could also do more to incorporate storage into their mix of resources.
In response to the outages, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has requested additional comments on the distribution plans filed by DTE, Consumers Energy and Indiana Michigan Power. In order to make the distribution grid more reliable and to make grid-related spending more cost-effective, these plans should consider a bigger role for distributed energy resources and non-wires alternatives. These approaches can allow utilities to defer the construction of grid infrastructure replacements, freeing up resources for other measures that improve reliability, like burying power lines.
Finally, as the grid is changing, the utility business model needs to change with it. In our current policy platform, Michigan EIBC supports introducing performance-based regulation (PBR), in which utility incentives are tied to performance on important metrics like the level of reliability. Gov. Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have recently called for DTE and Consumers Energy to be held accountable for their reliability performance, and Michigan EIBC believes PBR is one way to introduce greater accountability.
Air Quality is an Energy Injustice Issue, and How Energy Innovation Can Help
Michigan EIBC’s work tends to focus on the economic benefits, including well-paying jobs, that come with advanced energy. But it is also important to stress that certain segments of society upon which the impacts of air pollution have fallen the hardest see benefits from cleaner energy that go beyond dollars. The health outcomes in many communities are literally at stake.
The poorest parts of the country have disproportionately worse air pollution and associated health impacts, such as respiratory illnesses and earlier mortality. Michigan epitomizes this problem. The poorest zip codes in the state, many of which are found in Wayne County, are also the most polluted due to the presence of fossil fuel-burning power plants, heavy industry and freeways. These same areas also tend to be disproportionately populated by racial minority groups that bear the brunt of the harm. This pollution disparity is one reason why majority-black parts of Wayne County suffered worse death rates from COVID-19 compared to areas in neighboring counties—the residents were more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses from years of breathing in polluted air.
Closing fossil fuel-burning plants and replacing them with renewable energy and storage helps improve air quality. It’s critical that communities have access to and benefit from clean energy, including through increased access to community solar, such as under HB 4715 and HB 4716, Michigan-EIBC supported legislation that would create a new framework to drive the growth of community solar in Michigan.
Despite these shifts toward renewable energy, sources of air pollution and environmental injustice remain, such as the thousands of internal combustion engine vehicles driving on highways that cut through low-income neighborhoods. Shifting toward EVs can reduce that air pollution. In addition, the Senate Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes funding for a program to “reconnect communities divided by transportation infrastructure” and new investments into electric school buses and public transit.
Last Chance to RSVP for 9th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala in Detroit
Today is the last chance to get tickets for the 9th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on September 14, 2021 at The Eastern, Detroit, MI, featuring keynote speaker Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II! There will be an outdoor area for the event, and attendees can choose to remain outdoors without missing any of the Gala.
During the gala, we celebrate the individuals and businesses who have worked to grow Michigan’s advanced energy sector in 2021. Advanced energy business leaders and experts, legislators, state and local government officials, and other key decision-makers will be in attendance, and attendees will get to enjoy amazing food from Detroit area food trucks, good company and networking at this premiere outdoor/indoor event!
Updated Event Timeline:
5:00p – 6:15p | Cocktail hour + Networking (open bar + food trucks serving)
6:20p – 7:30p | Keynote Speaker + Awards Program
7:30p – 8:00p | Continued Networking + Dessert & Coffee/Tea Bar
8:00p | Event Concludes
Please note that the health and safety of our staff and guests is of utmost importance to us. Attendees of Gala are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the start of the event. The CDC defines fully vaccinated as two weeks after receiving a second shot of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Additionally, as recommended by CDC guidance, Michigan EIBC strongly encourages that all attendees wear masks while indoors.
LT. GOVERNOR GARLIN GILCHRIST II
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II has dedicated his career to solving problems. An engineer by training, he uses thoughtful innovation, progressive reform, and efficient modernization of policies and programs to make the work better for hardworking families. From spearheading campaigns for equality and justice to harnessing technology to solve real problems, his focus has consistently remained on serving the public and getting things done.
As part of the Whitmer Administration, Lt. Governor Gilchrist II has sought to address injustice and inequality across our state at every level, his approach to addressing disparities is deeply rooted in fact-based practices, science, and connecting with individuals across Michigan.
The Watt Level
TRC Environmental is considered a pioneer in groundbreaking scientific and engineering developments since the 1960s, TRC is a national engineering services, consulting and construction management firm that provides integrated services to the energy, environmental and infrastructure markets. TRC serves a broad range of clients in government and industry, implementing complex projects from initial concept to delivery and operation.
Leeward Renewable Energy is a leading renewable energy company that owns and operates a portfolio of 22 renewable energy facilities across nine states totaling approximately 2,000 megawatts of generating capacity. Leeward is actively developing new wind, solar, and energy storage projects in energy markets across the U.S., with 17 gigawatts under development spanning over 100 projects. Leeward is a portfolio company of OMERS Infrastructure, an investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans with C$105 billion in net assets (as at December 31, 2020). For more information, visit www.leewardenergy.com
Ryter Cooperative Industries (RCI), is a Detroit based minority-owned social impact company that provides customized engineering project management and educational services for community-based projects around clean energy development and empowerment. RCI works to bridge the gap in conversations between community and industry and specializes in energy-oriented solutions with a particular focus on solar technologies. These solutions include on-grid and off-grid solar assessments and designs, installations of solar lighting, design-build of solar internet and charging stations, and installation of solar systems for residential, commercial, public parks, and municipal applications.
Michigan Energy News
- The Ann Arbor City Council wants a feasibility study on the option of the city forming its own municipal utility.
- Citizens Utility Board of Michigan President Bob Nelson talks with WEMU about how to fix Michigan’s failing power grid.
- Michigan EIBC member Barton Malow is collaborating with a University of Michigan research team studying the use of robots on construction sites.
- A Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company subsidiary purchases the 41-MW Heathlands solar project from Prism Power Partners.
- The MPSC adopts recommendations from its staff regarding the competitive procurement of new energy resources.
- Additional power outages following thunderstorms this week “will continue to rile customers, consumer groups and officials who are criticizing the state’s utilities for poor service reliability,” the Detroit Free Press reports.
National Energy News
- Caterpillar Inc. (whose authorized Michigan dealer Michigan CAT is a member of Michigan EIBC) announces it will offer generator sets that run on 100% hydrogen by the end of the year and will immediately offer power generation solutions that can run on natural gas blended with up to 25% hydrogen.
- Michigan EIBC member Form Energy and other long-duration storage startups are attracting big investor interest.
- Startups are working on technology that will match the times of day when EVs are charged to the times when the most clean energy is available.
- A report from Earthjustice argues that fervor around hydrogen, of which only a small fraction today is produced using renewable energy, as a clean fuel could drain attention and funding from other ways to realize cleaner energy,
- It will take 30 GW of new solar capacity each year from now to 2025 and 60 GW each year from 2025 to 2030 for the U.S. to eliminate 95% of carbon emissions, according to a new U.S. Department of Energy analysis.
- California load-serving entities are being forced to find new ways to procure power through markets for resource adequacy.
We are debuting a new section of the newsletter for Michigan EIBC members to post job openings in advanced energy fields. If you have a job announcement you would like in the newsletter, please send a paragraph describing the position and a link to apply to Matt Bandyk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.
Inovateus Solar is hiring for several positions in South Bend. Check out the company’s LinkedIn page for more information.
NOVI Energy is growing, and they need your help. This month, they announced a joint venture with Osaka Gas USA to develop over 1000 MW of solar power generation facilities, enough solar and storage to power more than 150,000 homes with clean, affordable energy while creating good-paying jobs. This is one of several exciting projects NOVI Energy is developing! Learn more about their company and available Project Engineer positions. See open positions here.
Michigan and National Energy Events
Michigan EIBC’s 9th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will be held in Detroit on Sept. 14. Buy tickets here.
The PlugVolt Battery Seminar 2021 in Plymouth, Mich., will feature an entire day of in-depth technical tutorials presented by world renowned professors from Top 50 US universities on Day 1, followed by Days 2 and 3 with industry subject matter experts presenting on Automotive and Stationary Storage applications respectively. Attendees will also get an exclusive opportunity to tour INTERTEK Battery Testing Center of Excellence in Plymouth, MI (USA). The seminar is scheduled for Oct. 5-7, and registration is open here.
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.
Michigan EIBC member Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University is now accepting applications for its C3 Accelerator. Apply here by Jan. 10, 2022. C3 is a growth stage Accelerator with up to $1.6M in funding in the form of grants, investments, and services to support the product development and scaling of Cleantech, Climatech, and Circular Economy technologies.
The Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4) is seeking a full-time contract position to provide coordination of C4 leadership, organizational representatives, Grand Rapids residents, and the program deliverables.
State of Michigan DNR is going big in solar with projects in the ground, others in development and additional ones being planned. DNR has released a Request for Proposal for Prequalification Program for Renewable Energy PPAs: www.michigan.gov/sigmavss. Use “Guess Access” to get the RFP. A previous round of pre-qualifications netted solar companies that then were able to bid on a portfolio of DNR solar projects in Southwest Michigan. Another portfolio in the Northern Region is in the works for later this year. Only companies who pre-qualify can bid on future DNR solar projects. Please direct all correspondence to the Solicitation Manager, Laura Gyorkos at gyorkosL@michigan.gov
Consumers Energy Company is planning to seek competitive bids in response to a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) from participants in the MISO Energy Market in accordance with the Company’s Proposed Course of Action in its Integrated Resource Plan. Enel X North America, Inc. will administer the solicitation and anticipates formally releasing the upcoming RFP and associated documents late September 2021. Questions pertaining to this RFP or the proposal submittal process can be sent via email to Enel X by way of CECIA.email@example.com.
The Lansing Board of Water and Light will issue a Request for Information for electricity storage by the end of September. Vendors can register here.
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.