- Newsletter (315)
Earlier this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Department of Environmental Quality will be reorganized and renamed the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Among other changes, the new department will include the functions of the Agency for Energy under the new Office on Climate and Energy. Whitmer also announced that Michigan will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is an alliance of 20 U.S. states who are committed to climate-related goals, including accelerating the deployment of clean energy.
“Michigan’s energy production, air and water quality, and economy are all inherently linked, and today’s announcement creates the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to reflect these connections. We also applaud the Administration’s commitment to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, which will promote clean energy deployment in Michigan, enhance modernization of our energy system, and help enable the automated, electrified, and shared transportation future,” said Laura Sherman, vice president of policy development for Michigan EIBC.
“The newly formed department is a positive step toward continuing Michigan’s growth in the clean energy sector. We are proud that former Michigan EIBC president Liesl Clark will lead this new department. Her expertise in energy and environmental policy will be invaluable as Michigan transitions to an advanced energy economy. We look forward to working with the Whitmer administration and new Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to create jobs and increase deployment of advanced energy while improving water and air quality and decreasing electricity costs,” added Sherman.
Some of the specific changes made include:
- The Michigan Agency for Energy would be abolished with its functions transferred to a new Office of Climate and Energy housed within the new DEGLE;
- The Office of the Great Lakes, previously housed in the Department of Natural Resources, is abolished and a new Office of the Great Lakes would be created within DEGLE;
- The duties of the Office of Performance and Transformation would move to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and the Office of Regulatory Reinvention, the main clearinghouse for rules changes, would be abolished. The duties of ORR would move to the new Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules.
- The Environmental Rules Review Committee, the Environmental Permit Review Commission and the Environmental Science Advisory Board – created last year in bills passed by the Legislature and signed by then-Governor Rick Snyder to give business oversight in environmental permitting and rule-making – would be abolished.
On Wednesday, the Michigan House of Representatives voted to reject Governor Whitmer’s executive order. The resolution to reject the executive order now moves to the Senate and is expected to be taken up next week. A vote to reject from the Senate would stop the executive order.
Republican lawmakers cited the abolition of panels reviewing environmental rules and permit decisions that passed in 2018 as the reason for the outcome of the vote. Also on Wednesday, the Governor asked Attorney General Dana Nessel for an opinion on whether the committees in question are legal in the first place. The broader reorganization is said to have little opposition.
TODD MCINTURF/DETROIT NEWS VIA AP
Following Polar Vortex Crisis Gov. Whitmer calls for review of state’s energy supply
Last week, a compressor station in Macomb County caught fire, threatening the ability of Consumers to provide natural gas for heating to its customers. The event, which occurred during one of the coldest stretches in recent history, resulted in industrial and residential customers being asked to turn down their heat to help avoid forced shutoffs. Separately, due to the cold weather, DTE asked customers to reduce electricity usage.
In response, Governor Whitmer this week called for the Michigan Public Service Commission to review supply, deliverability, and disaster preparedness for natural gas, electricity, and propane.
In an opinion piece authored by Governor Whitmer on Sunday she said, “I have also asked the Michigan Public Service Commission for an initial statewide review of supply and deliverability of natural gas, electricity and propane and contingency planning by July 1, 2019 with a final report to follow. This will ensure that if Michigan experiences extreme temperatures again, we can have peace of mind that we’ll be able to get through it together.”
In an interesting take on last week’s events, a recent article from Midwest Energy News highlights how a mass call for customers to alter usage fits into a broader discussion about the usefulness and practicality of demand response efforts in our modern electricity grid.
Michigan Energy Stories
- Higher rates offered by utilities to commercial solar companies required under Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) in 2017, combined with the declining cost of solar development, has created the potential for large-scale utility-scale solar projects to be profitable in the state, according to Matt Kapp, government relations specialist for Michigan Farm Bureau.
- University of Michigan researchers will study more strategic control of air conditioners to improve the reliability and efficiency of the power grid and make it easier to transition to renewables.
- Ann Arbor, Michigan, issued a $15,000 grant to an elementary school to launch a solar energy curriculum and “support educational efforts about clean energy.”
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s chance to appoint two members to the Michigan Public Service Commission could have major implications for clean energy.
- Upper Peninsula researchers will study whether pumped hydroelectric storagecould be used in abandoned mines in the Lake Superior area.
- Michigan was one of the most active states on distributed solar policy in 2018, according to a new report.
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joins 19 other states in the U.S. climate alliancewhile reorganizing the state’s environmental agency to include a focus on clean energy and climate change.
- Plans for a major wind farm in five townships across northern Isabella County took a major step forward last week when the Isabella County Planning Commission gave them its unanimous approval before a packed crowd in Mt. Pleasant city hall.
- Emmet County commissioners established a PACE district earlier this month by joining the Lean & Green Michigan PACE program. Lean & Green Michigan is a Michigan EIBC member.
- Despite frigid temperatures last week, DTE’s 277 wind turbines near full capacityall week long.
National Energy Stories
- Solar installer was the fastest growing job in eight states over the past two years, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Lyft passengers in Seattle and eventually other cities will soon be able to request a ride in an electric or hybrid vehicle.
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey unveiled a framework today for their Green New Deal legislation.
- Corporate contracts have spurred growth in wind and solar development, according to a recent report.
- A Forbes columnist says electric vehicles benefit utility ratepayers more than EV drivers.
- The sound rotating wind turbine blades does not have a negative effect on a person’s health, a new report by the Iowa Policy Project states.
- Nebraska lawmakers held a hearing on a wind energy bill that critics say is too restrictive and stifles local control.
- Last week’s polar vortex sparked another debate over the role of coal, natural gas and renewables during harsh weather events.
- Corporate interest in renewable energy agreements isn’t likely to wane as federal tax credits expire, analysts say.
- Utility executives say their companies need to expand their offerings to be more than electricity providers.
- Xcel Energy officials in Colorado say they will likely seek to establish rates for public charging stations and those that cater to larger fleets.
- Bloom Energy, a California-based fuel cell firm, doubled revenue in 2018 and is optimistic about its prospects for 2019.
- A renewable energy developer warned of wind project supply chain bottlenecksas companies race to qualify for an expiring federal tax credit.
Michigan Energy Events
Legislators are invited to attend the Institute for Energy Innovation’s Energy 101 event on February 20th at the Michigan Municipal League (208 N. Capitol Ave, Lansing; basement room) from 12:00 – 3:30pm. A cocktail hour open to Michigan EIBC members will follow from 4pm – 6pm.
Attend the 15th Annual Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policy on Friday 22, February 2019 hosted by Institute of Public Utilities at MSU.
Please join Michigan EIBC in Lansing on Monday, February 25 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm for a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Lunch Networking Meeting & Tour at Michigan CAT. Our featured speaker for the meeting will be Graeme Miller, Energy Policy Analyst with the Energy Resources Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
You’re invited to MEECA’s upcoming Annual Banquet & Awards Celebration on March 6th.
Members Only: Michigan EIBC members are invited to join us in Lansing on Friday, March 15 for an in-person Policy Committee meeting at Dykema in Lansing. This meeting replaces March’s Policy Committee conference call.
Join Michigan EIBC on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 for our 7th Annual Member Meeting at the MSU Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center.
Members Only: Michigan EIBC members are invited to join us in downtown Lansing on Wednesday, April 24 for Lobby Day. During Lobby Day, Michigan EIBC staff, members, and our lobby team at Dykema meet one-on-one with Michigan State Legislators and their staff to discuss current and future issues for the advanced energy industry.
National Energy Events
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Winter Policy Summit is February 10-13, 2019 in Washingtion DC. Click here for more information.
Join the Midwest Cogeneration Association for “Energy Policy and the Case for Combined Heat & Power” on February 19, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.
The 12th annual Storage Week is February 25-27 in San Francisco.
The Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit is March 19-21 in San Diego.
Attend the Midwest Renewable Energy Summit on April 16-18, 2019, in Chicago, IL.
Announcements & Opportunities
Michigan EIBC member Plug Smart seeks a business development professional for its southern Michigan territory. More information here.
Michigan EIBC member Geronimo is hiring for multiple positions working on renewable energy deployment in the Midwest.