- Newsletter (328)
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:
Settlement Expands DTE Voluntary Green Pricing Program
Customers of Michigan’s largest utility, DTE Energy, will find it easier to “go green” due to a recently struck settlement between DTE and groups including Michigan EIBC and Advanced Energy Economy. The settlement improves DTE’s voluntary green pricing program—in which companies from GM to the Detroit Zoo, as well as residential customers, can subscribe directly to wind and solar projects—by making it more affordable and more competitive.
In 2018, in response to criticisms from Michigan EIBC, AEE and other groups, DTE revised its green pricing plan for commercial & industrial customers to improve the offerings and make the prices more reasonable. Following that change, participation notably increased, with customers like the Detroit Zoo signing up to buy renewable energy.
Given that success, in 2020 DTE asked state regulators to graduate the program for large customers from a pilot to an official part of its MIGreenPower program, in which any customer can sign up to pay extra to support renewable energy. As a result of the settlement, DTE’s program will be improved in several ways:
-The MIGreenPower program will be expanded to include proposed renewable energy projects like Ranger Power’s White Tail Solar project in Washtenaw County and Invenergy’s Calhoun County Solar project.
-The settlement creates a pilot in which a community solar project can participate in MIGreenPower if there is a central “anchor tenant” that hosts the project. That tenant could be a school, a church or a business, to name some examples.
-The initial application from DTE did not include a fair and transparent competitive procurement process through which different project developers could submit bids. The settlement provides that all renewable energy projects for MIGreenPower that DTE procures through 2025 be done through an improved competitive process.
-The settlement establishes a competitive process for projects under 25 MW, which were excluded from the last procurement process, to provide electricity to the MIGreenPower program.
C-PACE To Get An Update and Upgrade With Newly Introduced Legislation
Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing has jumpstarted dozens of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across Michigan, from energy efficiency measures for a new mixed use building in downtown Detroit that will save it $40 million to energy waste reduction for a ski resort in Northern MIchigan, to name a few recent success stories. But these accomplishments are only the beginning of the full promise of C-PACE. HB 5011 and 5012, new bills sponsored by Reps. Yousef Rabhi and Felicia Brabec, respectively, update the C-PACE statute to expand the use of C-PACE to finance an even wider range of projects.
HB 5011 would allow a property owner trying to gain C-PACE financing to waive a requirement from the original statute requiring C-PACE projects to guarantee energy savings that cover the initial costs of the project. In practice, this requirement has caused property owners to leave potential energy efficiency savings on the table because those savings, while still substantial and incremental, would not cover the entire initial costs. The bill also would expand C-PACE financing to projects that involve environmental hazards like asbestos or lead paint replacement, which currently do not qualify. HB 5012, meanwhile, allows new construction projects that produce energy savings that exceed current building codes to qualify for C-PACE financing.
We are hopeful that the bills will get a hearing in the House Energy Committee as early as next week.
EV and EV Charging Bills Currently Pending in the State Legislature
Several pieces of legislation aimed at expanding opportunities for EVs on Michigan’s roads have recently been introduced into the state legislature, and on June 8 Michigan EIBC filed written comments about these bills to the Michigan House Energy Committee. While Michigan EIBC expressed support for the underlying intent of the bills, the organization took a neutral position on the package as a whole.
Two of the bills, House Bills 4801 and 4802, are meant to ensure that EV charging stations can resell electricity to charge vehicles without being considered a “utility” under state regulations (and thus subject to rate regulation.) The legislation would extend this clarification of the status of charging stations beyond the service territories of DTE and Consumers Energy. “Allowing for the sale of electricity by charging station operators without subjecting them to rate regulation will accelerate private market development and drive innovation, while providing the best services and pricing options to customers,” Michigan EIBC’s comments said. Michigan EIBC has worked with bill sponsors Reps. Andrea Schroeder and Padma Kuppa to improve the language of these pieces of legislation and will continue to ensure they do not have unintended consequences.
While “broadly supportive of the intent” behind the other bills, 4803, 4804 and 4805, to create more opportunities for EV charging stations to be deployed at rest areas and transportation centers, Michigan EIBC “would like to continue to work with the bill sponsors and the Committee to ensure that these bills create jobs and economic opportunities for Michigan’s growing [EV] charging industry,” the comments said.
June 15 Energy Storage Convening To Examine Multi-Faceted Role For Storage in Changing Regulatory Environment
Michigan EIBC’s next virtual Energy Storage Convening, scheduled for June 15 from 9 am to 11 am, will kick off with MPSC Commissioner Katherine Peretick setting the stage for the discussion of the role energy storage can play in the grid, especially given the pending implementation of regulatory changes that are creating market opportunities where there were not before. Michigan EIBC has been calling for the MPSC to ensure that energy storage projects can live up to their full potential and provide multiple services with multiple value streams.
Commissioner Peretick has a unique perspective on the multi-faceted role of storage due to her previous work designing energy storage projects, from battery projects to novel types of storage like compressed air projects.
Also speaking at the convening is Sarah Martz of Alliant Energy. Alliant, based in Madison, Wisc., has been pursuing innovative energy storage projects, including a battery storage project to support increasing amounts of customer-sited renewables in Decorah, Iowa.
The meeting is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).
National Grid Renewables
National Grid Renewables, which includes the renewables development company formerly known as Geronimo Energy, is a leading North American renewable energy company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with satellite offices located throughout multiple states in the regions where it develops, constructs, and operates. As a farmer-friendly and community focused company, National Grid Renewables develops projects for corporations and utilities that seek to repower America’s electricity grid by reigniting local economies and reinvesting in a sustainable future. National Grid Renewables is part of the competitive, unregulated Ventures division of National Grid and has a robust portfolio of solar, wind, and energy storage projects located throughout the United States in various stages of development, construction and operation.
Petros PACE Finance has quickly become a national leader in providing low-cost, long-term PACE financing to commercial property owners. Petros PACE Finance has significant institutional backing and was founded by a team with a collective 60+ years of experience in building and assisting companies with strategic capital, advice, and strong business relationships. We have been involved in the PACE market since 2010 and have played a major role in the implementation of many PACE programs. Through our knowledge and experience, we have developed a flexible financing program designed to seamlessly help property owners and industry partners reap the many benefits of PACE financing.
Spartan Renewable Energy
Spartan Renewable Energy was founded in 2006 to sell renewable energy into Michigan’s Electric Choice market and to develop renewable energy projects. Spartan is a licensed Alternative Electric Supplier and also has market-based rate authority to sell into wholesale energy markets. Spartan is a member of Wolverine Power Cooperative.
Michigan Energy News
- Gov. Whitmer spoke at the grand opening of the new fleet electrification technology center in Wixom from Boston-based XL Fleet.
- Michigan EIBC member National Grid Renewables says its recently-completed Bingham Solar and Temperance Solar projects will create about $6 million in new tax revenue for the surrounding communities.
- Michigan AG Dana Nessel calls a proposed rate increase by DTE Gas “excessive and unreasonable.”
- Michigan EIBC member Hemlock Semiconductor is using planning algorithms to increase its energy efficiency savings.
- Consumers Energy announces its PowerMIFleet EV charger rebate program aimed at commercial customers.
- The city of Midland is looking into installing EV charging stations.
National Energy News
- The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plans to eventually run 4,300 MW of primarily natural gas-fired power plants on “green hydrogen.”
- Southern Co.’s Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia falls further behind schedule.
- Duke and Southern are unveiling details about their proposed energy market for the Southeast that some intervenors in the case before FERC are arguing is actually a “loose power pool” that should instead be a proposal for a regional transmission organization.
- Colorado lawmakers pass a bill requiring the state’s transmission utilities to join an organized wholesale market by 2030.
- National Grid Director of Asset Development and Policy for U.S. Transmission Terron Hill says that FERC needs to do more to incentivize utilities to adopt transmission technologies like advanced power flow control, dynamic line ratings and topology optimization.
- The effect of rising costs of raw materials on global solar panel prices is expected to fade by 2022, according to a BloombergNEF analyst.
Michigan and National Energy Events
Michigan EIBC’s next Storage Convening, on Distribution and Transmission Applications of Storage, is on June 15 and free registration is available here.
The SEIA Finance & Tax Seminar is back this year on June 24 with both in-person and virtual elements that connect hundreds of tax, finance, business, and legal leaders for an in-depth look at solar financing trends. Register here.
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 PlugVolt Battery Seminar 2021 in Plymouth, Mich., has been postponed from July to the new dates of Oct. 5-7. The conference will feature “technical tutorials on fundamental materials’ challenges for electrochemical energy storage, opportunities and challenges with solid-state batteries, best design practices for cell engineering, battery modeling and health monitoring, second life design considerations for energy storage, etc.,” as well as a tour of A123 Systems in Novi. 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.
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.