Consumers Energy Rate Case, DER-Driven Grid Transformation, Granholm for Energy Secretary

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:

Consumers Energy Rate Case Approval Has Big Implications for Distributed Generation and EVs

This Thursday the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approved Consumers Energy’s rate case, which included a decision to acknowledge the utility’s recent expansion of its cap on distributed generation (DG) and to require the utility to credit solar customers for the electricity they produce at a lower rate (the utility’s full power supply costs, less transmission costs).

Confirming the expansion of the cap (from 1% of the utility’s average peak load to 2%) gives Michigan rooftop solar installers confidence that they can keep serving customers. The compensation rate that DG customers receive from Consumers Energy for power outflows is still too low, however, since it does not recognize the full value that DG provides for the grid, like avoided transmission costs. Michigan EIBC filed expert testimony and briefs in the case urging the MPSC to raise the DG cap and fairly compensate solar customers. 

More broadly, this increase in Consumers’ DG cap is just a temporary fix. In 2021, the Michigan legislature needs to step-in to ensure that customers across Michigan are able to continue to generate their own electricity. 

The MPSC’s order also approved Consumers Energy’s three-year PowerMIFleet pilot program, which Michigan EIBC supported in the case. PowerMIFleet will investigate how the use of EVs in business fleets might affect the grid, with an eye toward overcoming barriers to EV adoption. As Consumers Energy Director of Corporate Strategy Sarah Nielsen described in testimony, PowerMIFleet will involve “working closely with fleet owners, fueling stations, the Company’s internal fleet team, and other stakeholders to help fleet owners understand the cost savings associated with electrification, effectively manage charging to benefit all, and explore new value streams for vehicle batteries to determine future steps to take.” 

Energy News Network Article By Laura Sherman Looks At Non-Wires Alternatives and Other Grid Modernization Tools

The state’s MI Power Grid initiative continues to engage stakeholders to identify ways to fundamentally transform Michigan’s electricity grid. One of the most significant actions related to the initiative in 2020 was an order from the MPSC that utilities must submit distribution grid plans that align with the goals of the initiative.

In a new piece at Energy News Network, Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman explores some of the new forms of innovative grid planning that can and should emerge from this process, such as non-wires alternatives and other approaches that emphasize distributed energy resources (DERs).

“A quick look at Michigan’s distribution grid reveals big problems that more sophisticated distribution grid planning that incorporates DERs could help address,” Sherman writes.

Read the whole article here.  

Biden To Nominate Former Gov. Granholm for Energy Secretary

After a campaign in which he emphasized more action needs to be done on renewable energy, electric vehicles and other forms of advanced energy, President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to lead the U.S. Department of Energy. 

The Washington Post reported that Biden’s choice of Granholm “points to a focus” on electric cars. One of Granholm’s most significant accomplishments during her tenure as governor was establishing the nation’s first tax credits for advanced batteries for EVs and other purposes. These tax credits played an important role invigorating Michigan’s base of battery manufacturers, which includes several Michigan EIBC member companies.

Writing about an economic recovery driven by clean energy in a recent piece for the Detroit News, Granholm cited E2’s “Clean Jobs, Better Jobs” report and its figures showing that clean energy jobs in Michigan have median wages above those of other occupations. “Low-carbon recovery measures are the best way to ensure a prosperous, long-term recovery that creates good jobs, builds resilience against future shocks and supports the middle class through this unprecedented time,” Granholm wrote.  

Meet Our Interns – Hanqian Zhang

Hanqian Zhang comes to Michigan from China. He is currently pursuing a master’s of public policy from the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. 

During a previous internship with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Hanqian became interested in renewable energy and sustainable development. MIchigan EIBC, in particular, appealed to him because of its record “holding utilities accountable regarding their renewable energy programs,” he said. Hanqian started working with us this November, and his work includes research for the Institute of Energy Innovation’s Energy Storage Roadmap.

As for the future, “in 10 years, I hope to work in an energy NGO or a renewable energy company as an energy policy analyst/consultant,” Hanqian says. 

New Members 

Centrepolis Accelerator @LTU
Centrepolis Accelerator is fueling the growth of Southeast Michigan’s small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs by providing access to key resources (mentors, workshops, cutting-edge technologies, corporate connections, and student & faculty engagement). Our concentration is on guiding entrepreneurs into a pattern as they develop their business from the “idea” stage to a thriving business. 

DG Reimagined 
Helping businesses reimagine the energy system to realize the value of renewables, storage, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, sPower is a leading independent power producer (IPP) that owns and operates more than 150 renewable generation systems across the U.S. We operate a wind, solar and storage portfolio of nearly 2,000 megawatts, with 15,000 megawatts of projects under development.
We are owned by a joint venture partnership between the AES Corporation (NYSE: AES), a Fortune 500 global power company, and the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), one of Canada’s largest and most diversified institutional investment managers.
Our vision is to be the nation’s leading integrated renewable energy independent power producer (“IPP”). We strive to deploy creative development strategies, deliver best-in-class project execution and leverage our team’s experience to provide high-performing, valuable renewable energy solutions to our partners, while being a good corporate citizen in all aspects of our business.

Renewing Members 

D2 Solar LLC
D2 Solar’s formation was motivated by a desire to improve social and environmental conditions through solar energy, and to help Michigan realize its solar potential. D2 operates a warehouse in Detroit that sells solar modules, and we also offer consulting to organizations who want to go solar.

Oak Electric 
When it comes to emergency power solutions, Oak Electric specializes in the sales, installation and service of a wide selection of automatic standby and backup generators. Oak Electric is a Top Premier Generac Generator Dealer in Southeast Michigan and in the country and has completed more than 20,000 residential and commercial generator installations.
In addition, Oak Electric has been at the forefront of bringing renewable energy solutions to Michigan residents and businesses, providing sales, service and installation of solar panels, battery backup systems and wind power to a growing number of customers who want to experience the efficiency and environmental benefits of “green” energy.
Oak Electric knows how busy life can get and also knows that helping clients achieve a truly functional and comfortable environment goes beyond servicing their electrical system. Oak Electric’s full range of services enables Oak to simplify and expand the customer experience to provide everything necessary to keep the power on, the temperatures comfortable, the air clean and the water flowing, whether at home or in the office. Electrical, generators, solar, heating, cooling, plumbing…One call covers it all!
Locally owned and operated, Oak Electric started out as a family-minded business, a philosophy Oak continues to embrace. Gary Pipia, President and Owner, states “Whether it relates to our clients or our amazing staff, we are proud of the fact that many of our employees have been with us an average of 10 years or more, which reflects the value we place on the people who work for us and the integral part they play in our success.”

Sunrun is the largest dedicated residential solar provider in the country. We have over a decade of experience helping nearly 135,000 homeowners choose clean, sustainable energy for their homes. We pioneered the “solar-as­-a­-service” model 10 years ago and since then we have been delivering on a vision to create a planet run by the sun.
Sunrun’s history of blending innovation with expertise began in 2007 when Sunrun co-founders invented this model of service—making clean solar energy affordable, mainstream, and accessible for everyone in the U.S.  Sunrun makes going solar, and saving money on your electric bill, about as easy as it gets. Our innovation continues with Sunrun’s BrightBox, an innovative solar and battery storage solution for homeowners who want the peace of mind that comes with backup electricity and maximum control over their energy bills. This enables our customers to better manage the energy generated directly from their rooftops.
Sunrun employs more than 3,000 people throughout the United States. We’re looking forward to helping Midwest families go solar to bring down their energy costs and create a cleaner, more sustainable environment for generations to come.

Ventower Industries 
Ventower Industries is a leading North American steel fabricator currently specializing in wind turbine towers, marine foundation solutions, pressure vessels, welded storage tanks and the application of various coating systems.  

Michigan Energy News

  • Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman argues that rooftop solar is not being compensated for its full value under Michigan’s current system in an article from Bridge that also quotes Ken Zebarah of Michigan EIBC member Harvest Solar and Ian Olmsted of Michigan EIBC member Peninsula Solar.
  • The Environmental Defense Fund, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and other groups praise President-elect Biden for his choice of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for Secretary of Energy, and Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman also weighs in.
  • Former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell calls for the city putting more solar panels on city-owned buildings, and writes that the legislature must address the “arbitrary and restrictive” cap on distributed generation.
  • One Detroit-based small business has found that interest in community-based solar projects has remained strong throughout the pandemic.
  • The University of Michigan releases a draft plan to significantly reduce its carbon footprint at all campuses.
  • The board of Dickinson County in the Upper Peninsula votes in favor of a tunnel replacement for the Line 5 pipeline that will allow the project to be built, despite concerns about environmental impacts.

National Energy News

  • President-elect Joe Biden has “monumental” challenges ahead to move the U.S. to get back on track with Paris accord commitments, but, at the same time, can take advantage of renewable energy’s position as the cheapest source of electricity, writes former Vice President Al Gore.
  • The stimulus legislation being considered by Congress includes new R&D spending for energy storage, solar and wind technologies, among other forms of energy.
  • The Federal Reserve joins the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System, an international body that helps central banks determine how to account for financial risks posed by climate change.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists sees progress on many clean energy fronts in Midwestern states in 2020.
  • New York City utility Consolidated Edison signs its biggest energy storage contract to date for a 100-MW/400-MWh battery storage project that will bid into New York wholesale electricity markets.

Michigan and National Energy Events

 Register now for the next entry in the UP Clean Energy Series, to be held Jan. 14, titled “Solar Energy Case Studies – Lessons from On the Ground Projects.”

The Michigan Energy Providers Conference has the first of its “MEPC Presents” events scheduled for Jan. 22, 2021. The topic is “How to Make Michigan Carbon Neutral by 2050.” Click here for the agenda. There is no registration fee.

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 or visit
The state of Michigan has released a Request for Proposals for the Prequalification Program for Renewable Energy PPAs. Vendors who wish to bid on solar PPAs for future projects must be prequalified through this process. Access the RFP documents through SIGMA. The deadline for proposals is Dec. 21.

Indiana Michigan Power Company has issued two Request For Proposals to obtain up to 450 MW of solar or wind energy resources. Proposals are due Jan. 15, 2021.

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.