- Newsletter (345)
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:
Hemlock Semiconductor Helps Provide PPE to Battle the Pandemic in Michigan
Michigan EIBC member Hemlock Semiconductor has donated 15,000 pieces of masks, goggles, latex gloves, face shields and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to central Michigan health system Covenant HealthCare.
“Everyone needs to be all in when it comes to helping our health care workers on the front lines dealing with COVID-19,” Hemlock CEO and Chairman Mark Bassett told a local news station. “We’re happy we can do our part by donating this personal protection equipment to help keep health care workers in the Great Lakes Bay Region safe and able to treat area residents during this public health crisis.”
Covenant HealthCare serves 20 counties across the northeast and central parts of the state, operating over 20 inpatient and outpatient facilities.
DTE Adds More Renewables in Long-Term Plan But Needs To Do More on Competition
On April 1 DTE Energy released its revised plan to add more renewable energy over the next several years. Notably, this plan uses much lower estimates for the costs of wind and solar energy than DTE had used in its recent integrated resource plan (IRP). Michigan EIBC and other intervening groups had argued throughout the IRP case that DTE was using unrealistically high assumptions about the cost of renewable energy. In the renewable energy plan filing, DTE used the results of a recent competitive bidding process — clearly showing that the costs of wind and solar are decreasing rapidly as companies innovate. It’s critical that open, transparent and fair competition is used to determine costs and unlock further cost savings. DTE’s IRP lacked proposals to create opportunities for competitive bidding, and Michigan EIBC was a loud voice calling for changes to allow competition (see severalarticles published by Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman over the last few months about how DTE’s customers should not miss out on the benefits of competitive bidding). Unlike the IRP, the new renewable energy plan used the results of a RFP to identify renewable resources. While that is progress, as Environmental Law and Policy Center attorney Margrethe Kearney explained in a Crain’s Detroit article, “the bad news is that the way DTE structured its competitive bidding process prevented small independent renewable projects from competing, which is required under federal law.”
As the MPSC’s process for reviewing DTE’s IRP comes close to a conclusion, Michigan EIBC will continue its work advocating for an open and fair competitive bidding process.
EIBC Continues to Provide Educational and Networking Opportunities: Join Us Virtually!
Just as our members are working hard to adapt to this trying time, Michigan EIBC has a busy schedule ahead of online events with some of the top experts and leaders in the advanced energy world.
On April 22 we are holding an Earth Day Virtual Mini Conference, with speakers including Liesl Eichler Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), Dr. Brandy Brown, climate and energy advisor at EGLE, Amy Butler of Michigan State University and Ryan Katofsky of Advanced Energy Economy. Michigan EIBC members, sponsors, and those with tickets to the postponed Annual Energy Innovators Conference (new date to be announced soon) are invited to join (contact us if you’d like to join!).
EIBC has also started a new “Bring Your Own Lunch (& Learn)” webinar series. April 3 webinar with Dan Scripps, commissioner at the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), is just the first in the series. Next Friday, on April 10, Ryan Michael, VP for Growth and Development at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will discuss “Resources to Support Businesses during the Ongoing Crisis.”
Here is a preview of some possible topics for upcoming webinars:
- Federal stimulus issues
- Understanding the regulatory process
- Solar on farmland
- Understanding the legislative process
(Note that the webinar series is for Michigan EIBC members only. Please contact us if you’d like to join!)
Economic Stimulus for Solar, Wind, Efficiency and Storage Still Under Discussion
While the recent COVID-19 economic relief bill passed by Congress did not include extensions of tax credits for wind and solar projects and other measures supported by renewable energy groups, there is still hope among advanced energy trade associations that upcoming stimulus bills will help keep on track projects that have been delayed by the pandemic. For example, Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy recently wrote on the group’s blog that “discussion is already beginning” for a follow-up to the relief package “which could include investments in energy efficiency just as efficiency played a prominent role in efforts to emerge from the 2009-2011 Great Recession.” The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed after that recession made large investments into efficiency projects like home weatherization.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, which is an EIBC National Associate Member, noted that many provisions of the recent legislation like long-term unemployment insurance and more access to business loans, while not directly aimed at renewable energy, will help solar companies and their workers who face a dropoff in their business. The group has advocated the solar investment tax credit being made refundable or paid directly to solar businesses or their customers.
“While we’re disappointed clean energy sector relief did not make it into the phase three stimulus package, we will continue working with Congress and other renewable energy leaders to find solutions to the specific challenges COVID-19 is causing our members,” the American Wind Energy Association (which is an EIBC National Associate Member) said in a statement in reaction to the legislation. “Relief provisions ensuring renewable projects can secure financing and meet safe harbor continuity schedules are critical to preserving a strong domestic clean energy sector.”
An internal poll of members of the Energy Storage Association (ESA) found fears of “devastating” impacts on an industry that has recently experienced tremendous growth. ESA is calling for the federal government to take several steps to allow storage to help out in an economic recovery, such as making storage an eligible technology for Department of Energy efficiency and conservation block grants and making storage eligible for Department of Education programs for school construction and renovation.
Advanced Energy Economy sent a letter to leaders in Congress asking for direct pay from federal tax credits and extensions of deadlines to qualify for the credits. AEE’s member companies help consumers and businesses save money on their energy bills “by repowering homes and businesses with energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy, making the electricity grid smarter and more resilient, and electrifying transportation,” the letter said. “We are one of America’s fastest growing industries, but the economic disruption from COVID-19 is grinding key parts of our industry to a halt.”
Michigan EIBC is engaged with our members, National Associate Members, AEE and policymakers to closely monitor and assist federal efforts to support the advanced energy industry.
Michigan Energy News
- Michigan EIBC is one of the groups pushing state officials to make further investment into EV charging infrastructure.
- Both Ford and General Motors are converting manufacturing facilities to produce ventilators to help with the fight against the pandemic.
- The city of Ann Arbor has a new “A2Zero” plan that outlines 40 actions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
- Ann Arbor is also working with the nearby Pittsfield Townshipto develop a 70-acre solar array that would also help the township meet sustainability goals.
- The Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force is seeking public comment on its draft report on propane supplies to the UP through April 6.
- A house in Portage recently won the Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association’s Residential Project of the Year.
National Energy News
- Clean energy legislative goals have been hindered as state lawmakers take pauses.
- COVID-19 will cause major delays in the deployment of behind-the-meter storage projects in the U.S., according to Wood Mackenzie.
- The pandemic is putting $43 billion of wind industry investments and payments at risk, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
- Energy efficiency contractors across the country are put in a tough spot by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Wisconsin regulators are trying to find more information about the economic harm the state’s utilities may experience due to COVID-19.
- Greentech Media takes a look at the five most promising technologies for long-duration energy storage.
- The U.S. could have over 1 gigawatt of offshore wind capacity by 2024.
Due to the number of events that have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, we are sharing some online events, webinars and tutorials on advanced energy topics that may be of interest.
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.
The Small Business Association of Michigan has many online resources including Youtube webinars and daily video briefings about COVID-19 and how small businesses in Michigan can cope.
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.
Michigan Energy Events
The Southeast Michigan PACE Summit in Ann Arbor, hosted by Michigan EIBC member Lean & Green Michigan, has been postponed from its previous April 15 date.
Michigan EIBC’s Earth Day Virtual Mini Conference is on April 22. Contact us to find out how to join.
The Mid-America Regulatory Conference, an association of regional organizations of utility and regulatory agencies from 14 states, is holding its annual meeting in Grand Rapids on June 21-24.
On July 21-23, 2020 PlugVolt will be hosting its next Battery Seminar in Plymouth, MI (USA), featuring an entire day of in-depth technical tutorials presented by renowned professors from several 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 A123 Systems’ new Novi, Michigan (USA) facility.
The NetZeroBuild Summit 2020, bringing together the key stakeholders involved in the Midwest’s value chain for net-zero construction in residential, commercial, academic and government buildings, is in Novi from August 25-26 (New dates due to delay related to the coronavirus.)
National Energy Events
The Midwest Solar Expo, previously scheduled from May 19-21 in Minneapolis, has been postponed.
The CLEANPOWER 2020 expo, organized by the American Wind Energy Association, will be in Denver from June 1-4, 2020. See registration options now.
5 Lakes Energy is seeking to hire a full-time campaign coordinator for the Land and Liberty Coalition, a Midwest regional collaborative fighting at the local level for the successful siting of renewable energy projects. Click here for the full job description including responsibilities, qualifications, and application instructions. [These RFPs have been put on hold.] The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has two new RFPs related to renewable energy projects at the Oden Fish Hatchery. The RFPs are published on the state’s online bidding portal. Search for numbers 20*1376 and 20*1377.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also plans to publish a RFP for leasing state forest land to utility-scale solar arrays. Go to the online bidding portal and use commodity code 91018 – Energy Systems, Solar Installation Systems
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.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service is seeking applications for its Rural Energy for America Program, which makes loan guarantees and grants available for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, energy audits and more. The deadlines to apply for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants are Oct. 31, 2019, and March 31, 2020, while applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round. Find out more here.
The Michigan Energy Office’s Small Manufacturers Energy Waste Reduction Incentive Pilot is offering rebates of up to $15,000 per company for small manufacturers that can implement energy efficiency activities between Oct. 1, 2019 and July 31, 2020. There is a 100% minimum match requirement. Click here to learn more about eligibility and apply.