- Newsletter (321)
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:
In the Lansing State Journal: Lifting the DG Cap Would Promote Access to Affordable Energy
As Michigan EIBC continues to work to persuade the state legislature to remove the cap on distributed generation, one of the most common—and false—objections we have encountered is that rooftop solar is primarily for affluent consumers and that it shifts costs onto lower-income customers. The truth is that rooftop solar is not just beneficial for low-income communities and communities of color, but necessary to promote more access to clean energy to communities that have long been denied it, Jeremy Orr, chairperson of Environmental & Climate Justice for the Michigan NAACP, writes in a powerful piece published this week by the Lansing State Journal.
“For too long, the traditional electric utility model of large, centralized fossil fuel plants has placed disproportionate environmental and economic burdens on communities of color and low-income communities,” Orr writes. “As state legislators weigh their decision on HB 4236, we urge them to consider how their voice will shape the future of energy justice in Michigan. Removing the cap on the distributed generation program will give solar customers in all of Michigan’s communities the opportunity to share in the solar economy.”
Orr’s perspective once again shows how broad and varied the support is for HB 4236 and the need to eliminate the limit on rooftop solar in Michigan.
Source: Beth LeBlanc, Detroit News
Whitmer Moves to Power State Buildings With Renewables
For Earth Day 2021, Governor Whitmer declared that state-owned buildings will move to 100% renewable energy by 2025. That achievement will be accomplished through the purchase of renewable energy credits from new wind and solar facilities, thus encouraging the development of more of these projects. This announcement is also an example of one piece of the governor’s strategy to reduce emissions through the MI Healthy Climate Plan (see the next item in this newsletter for more on that plan).
Gov. Whitmer unveiled this news at the Delta Solar facility outside Lansing, a 24-MW project that is one of the largest of its kind in the state. Michigan EIBC member EDF Renewables developed, designed and built Delta Solar, which is now owned by Consumers Energy and provides power to the Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL).
Consumers Energy, DTE and the Lansing BWL all signed on to partner with the state to build new renewable energy projects that will produce clean energy equivalent to the energy consumption of state-owned buildings.
“This action shifts the State of Michigan from being a major consumer of electricity to a major driver of our clean energy economy,” John Kinch, executive director of Michigan EIBC member Michigan Energy Options, said in a statement put out by the governor’s office. “By doing this, the State accomplishes three things at once: It puts the State on course to meet its carbon goals, in part, through solar generation, it helps the utilities meet their renewable energy commitments and it serves the people of Michigan by catalyzing our public and private sectors to decarbonize our future.”
Michigan EGLE Kicks Off Listening Sessions for MI Healthy Climate Plan
The MI Healthy Climate Plan has set a goal of carbon neutrality for the state by 2050, and now the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) wants to hear from you and all other Michigan residents on how to achieve those emissions reductions. On Earth Day, April 22, EGLE held the first of two listening sessions where it heard comments from the public. If you missed that session and still want to participate, the next listening session is on May 5 at 6 pm. Register for that session here.
Michigan EGLE wants to hear about all potential strategies that would cut emissions while also ensuring a “just transition” for the state’s labor force as it shifts to a new type of energy economy, Michigan EGLE Deputy Director James Clift said in the first listening session. “The plan is still in its infancy. Nothing is off the table,” he said. Many members of the public, including representatives of several counties and municipalities trying to promote sustainability, commented on areas EGLE could focus on. For example, Gary Melow, director of Michigan EIBC member Michigan Biomass, talked about how biomass power can be part of the solution when power plants burn byproducts of wood products manufacturing, as done by the plants that are part of Michigan Biomass.
Clift also talked about how EGLE is drilling down into specific challenges and opportunities with the help of workgroups in five different areas: 1. Buildings and Housing, 2. Energy Production, Transmission, Distribution and Storage (co-chaired by Douglas Jester, partner with Michigan EIBC member 5 Lakes Energy), 3. Energy Intensive Industries (co-chaired by Steven Holty, sustainability team leader with Michigan EIBC member Hemlock Semiconductor), 4. Transportation and Mobility and 5. Natural Working Lands. These workgroups were established through the Council on Climate Solutions, consisting of 14 residents with expertise in various energy areas. One of those council members is Michigan EIBC Director of Strategic Initiatives Tanya Paslawski. Gov. Whitmer appointed Michigan EIBC VP Cory Connolly as the Council’s liaison to the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification.
EIBC/IEI Board President/Chair Lauren Bigelow Appointed to Michigan Finance Authority
Gov. Whitmer has appointed Lauren Bigelow, executive director of 20Fathoms Traverse City Center for Entrepreneurship, managing partner at Growth Capital Network, Michigan EIBC Board President and Institute for Energy Innovation Board Chair, to the Michigan Finance Authority Board of Directors. She will serve a term beginning April 23, 2021, and expiring Sept. 30, 2024.
“The Michigan Finance Authority provides effective, low-cost options to finance the acquisition, construction, improvement, or alteration of land, facilities, equipment, the payment of project costs, or to refinance existing debt,” the governor’s office said in a press release. “The Authority accomplishes this by working with municipalities, schools, healthcare providers, colleges and universities, and college students. “
Clean Jobs Report Shows Bounceback in Second Half of 2020
Jobs in advanced energy industries like renewable energy project construction, energy efficiency, storage and grid service, electric vehicles and alternative fuels grew 11% in the second half of 2020, compared to less than 9% growth for the national workforce during the same period, according to the 2021 Clean Jobs America report released April 19.
The series of Clean Jobs reports from E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), and the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) have provided statistics on employment in different advanced energy sectors and chronicled the quick growth of these jobs in the years leading up to the pandemic. Last year, the reports showed the extensive job losses for clean energy jobs due to the recession.
This latest report shows that clean energy deployment declined overall in 2020, the first recorded decline since the series of reports began in 2016. But those job losses were primarily from the first half of the year. Like most of the economy, clean energy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn in 2020. “At one point more than 600,000 clean energy workers had filed for unemployment, but the sector rebounded strongly after May to recover about half of those jobs to finish the year down 307,000 clean energy workers,” according to E2.
eCAMION USA Inc. engineers, manufactures and integrates energy storage systems. eCAMION using their energy storage systems also manufactures and integrates fast and super fast EV charging solutions.
Generate Capital is a specialty finance company that builds, owns, operates, and finances infrastructure assets involving the world’s critical resources: energy, water, agriculture and basic materials.
Olson, Bzdok and Howard is a different kind of law firm. We operate on a belief that lawyers must work not only for their clients, but also for the greater good. That serving the client’s interest, and the public interest, should be one and the same.
We express this idea now as stewardship: the careful and responsible management of something of value, entrusted to one’s care. These ideals, and how we strive to meet them every day, have helped make us a leader in environmental and energy law.
First started in 1972, our firm has been dedicated to our clients and their causes for almost five decades. Today, in an increasingly complex world, we apply the same commitment to a full range of legal services. We serve individuals, local governments, small businesses, and non-profit organizations with innovative strategies for attaining their objectives, supporting their mission, protecting their environment, and serving their community.
Uplight is the leading provider of end-to-end customer-centric technology solutions dedicated solely to serving the energy ecosystem. More than 80 utilities around the globe use Uplight solutions to power their customer energy experience. Uplight was established in 2019 by combining the acquisitions of EEme, EnergySavvy, FirstFuel, and Ecotagious with Tendril’s data analytics platform and Simple Energy’s consumer engagement marketplace. Uplight creates a more sustainable future by empowering customers in a way that the sum is greater than the parts—bringing together all of the pieces of customer energy action management, residential and commercial.
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
- President Biden’s energy plan calls for 30 GW of offshore wind, and the New England ISO estimates there is about 6 GW of transmission “headroom” for offshore wind before more transmission lines will need to be constructed.
- The CFO of NextEra Energy, the parent company of Michigan EIBC member NextEra Energy Resources, says the “small bets” the company is making on hydrogen could add up to another powerful force toward decarbonization that adds value beyond battery storage and renewables.
- The most economical pathway for decarbonization in the U.S. will require cutting carbon from sectors in a specific order: first, electric power generation, then transport, building heating, industrial operations, materials production and finally agriculture, according to a new report from think tank Energy Innovation.
- FirstEnergy Corp. may cut a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid criminal charges from alleged acts of bribery to help pass HB 6, the Ohio state bill that subsidized coal and nuclear power plants.
- The former watchdog for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) criticizes proposed legislation in that state that would penalize wind and solar energy.
- The Biden administration says that executive bodies like the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. “will seek to end international investments in and support for carbon intensive fossil fuel-based energy projects.”
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.
PG&E has issued a Request for Offers for distribution deferral services and utility-owned energy storage at its Blackwell substation. A webinar about the RFO is scheduled for April 28. More information is available here.
Groundwork Center is seeking a Clean Energy Program Specialist to support Groundwork’s Clean Energy Program in northern Michigan. The application is due May 10. Read 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 2030districts.org/Detroit to find out more information including how a building can apply.