Energy Services and Innovation, Future of Battery Storage and Offshore Wind

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:

Energy Services At the Core of Ongoing Energy Innovation

 Focusing on providing energy efficiency, energy management, and distributed energy resources as a packaged energy service is an important trend for Michigan EIBC and many of its members — particularly in the world of energy performance contracting. Michigan EIBC members including Ameresco, Elevate Energy, Future Energy Group, GEM Energy, Honeywell, Newman Consulting Group, PACENERGIES, PlugSmart, Siemens, Schneider Electric and more are involved in projects to make buildings more energy efficient not just at the meter, but at specific locations and times of day. They utilize data analytics and smart equipment to give customers more customized control over their buildings’ energy profiles than ever before.

This part of the advanced energy industry has been increasingly focused on energy as a service that can be specifically tailored to an individual customer’s needs. Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman talked about this shift in the way we use energy as the keynote speaker at the Energy Services Coalition – Michigan Chapter, Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards on Nov. 7.

In her remarks, Dr. Sherman quoted Adrian Tuck, the CEO of Michigan EIBC member Uplight: “No longer are power plants, poles and wires a utility’s greatest asset. It’s the customer.” Changes that Michigan EIBC has supported, like utility integrated resource plans and long-term distribution system planning, have moved Michigan toward a more customer-centric grid, Sherman said. Increasing data availability, focus on resilience and reliability, and cost-effective distributed energy resources are further driving this trend. Sherman described that the MI Power Grid initiative at the Michigan Public Service Commission is an opportunity to provide a central framework for more progress.

For these trends to continue, policymakers need to continue to be educated about how energy services are changing. The Institute for Energy Innovation will host a panel covering this topic of big data and smart buildings at an Energy 101 Lunch & Learn for state legislators, legislative staff and Michigan EIBC members on Dec. 3. Members can RSVP here!   

Report: The Best is Yet to Come for Battery Storage

 Cost reductions and performance improvements for battery storage are poised to generate positive feedback loops that will further reinforce the demand for storage, according to a sweeping report on the state of the battery storage industry recently published by the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Notably, the report said that while lithium-ion batteries will continue to be the dominant form of storage for some time, after 2025, the success of lithium-ion will open up market opportunities for other types of batteries.

As their price and efficiency continue to decrease, lithium-ion batteries will become more popular for applications like replacing natural gas-fired plants and powering electric vehicles (EVs). That growth drives more investment into R&D, which drives further technological improvements.

By 2025, EVs will have lower upfront capital costs than vehicles that use internal combustion engines (ICEs), the report predicted. Though, it is worth noting that today, in many cases, EVs and ICEs are comparable when considering the total cost of ownership. 

As lithium-ion batteries outcompete technologies that rely on fossil fuels, the infrastructure supplying fossil fuels like pipelines starts to lose value. As industries shift more toward batteries, other types of storage beyond lithium-ion will become more attractive for various uses. For example, as the need to back up renewables grows, flow or high-temperature batteries can better compete with lithium-ion because they do not degrade over their lifetime as quickly.  


Offshore Wind Making Progress, and the Great Lakes Have Untapped Potential

 Offshore wind has been big in Europe for years, but 2019 has seen developments on this side of the Atlantic that could lead to offshore wind playing a greater role in the U.S. renewable energy sector.

Proposed offshore wind projects off the coast of the Northeast U.S. have made progress, including New York state awarding contracts to offshore projects totaling 1,700 MW, the greatest amount of any state. The governor of Virginia declared a goal of up to 2,500 MW of offshore wind by 2026.

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan recently said that offshore wind is proving to be a “major new market opportunity,” with an AWEA report identifying nearly 6,000 MW of offshore wind under advanced development, meaning a project has not yet started construction, but has either signed a power purchase agreement, announced a firm turbine order, or been announced to proceed under utility ownership.

The Great Lakes have always been one of Michigan’s most important natural resources. Could offshore wind be in the future for this region? About a decade ago, then-Governor Jennifer Granholm studied the potential, and her administration found that Michigan could host up to 448,000 MW of offshore wind, compared to 16,000 MW on land.

But due to the high cost of offshore wind, plans for any actual development in the Great Lakes faltered, and while a Cleveland-based company is currently working on a demonstration project planned for Lake Erie, there is no offshore wind activity for Michigan expected in the foreseeable future, as described in a recent article from E&E News.

If the many projects in the pipeline in the Atlantic find success, however, cost reductions from operational experience and supply chain development could make offshore wind more feasible for other parts of the country. The Great Lakes, with its sheer raw potential for offshore wind, will be waiting. 

New Member

Elevate Energy
We design and implement programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most.

Elevate Energy seeks to create a world in which everyone has clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and communities — no matter who they are or where they live. Making the benefits and services of the clean energy economy accessible to everyone is how we fight climate change while supporting equity.

We want to work with everyone we can to help them reduce their energy costs and improve their quality of life — from homeowners, renters, and building owners, to nonprofit organizations, utilities, and municipalities. Our team builds strong connections in the places we work and delivers high-quality programs and services that contribute to healthy, thriving communities.

Renewing Member

Orion Renewable Energy Group LLC
Orion is a pioneer in the development, finance, construction, and operation of renewable energy projects throughout the United States. The principals of Orion have developed over 5,000 MW of operating renewable power projects through power purchase agreements, development asset sales, and build-transfer arrangements.​

Michigan Energy News

  • Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman explains why the solar property tax bills make sense in an interview with Michigan Radio.
  • Dr. Sherman is also quoted in a Midwest Energy News story about solar projects in brownfield developments.
  • The Traverse City Business News talks to Ken Zebarah from Michigan EIBC member Harvest Solar about the 2.5-MW solar project it is building for Traverse City Light & Power, and the future of distributed solar in general.
  • The Ann Arbor City Council sets a goal for the city to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
  • Michigan EIBC member ITC Holdings says a proposed underwater cable would allow Ontario electricity producers to serve 13 U.S. states.
  • GM plans to spend more on EVs than conventional vehicles over the next five years, according to GM CEO Mary Barra.
  • Northern Michigan co-op Great Lakes Energy could receive a $188 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build and improve distribution lines.

National Energy News

  • The Illinois Solar for All program is giving incentives to developers to try to spur solar projects in low-income areas and other markets typically not heavily served by solar developers.
  • The U.S. formally notifies the United Nations that it will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • Cybersecurity experts call for the utility sector to be more vigilant after the North American Electric Reliability Corporation releases more details about a March cyberattack against U.S. wind and solar assets.
  • Walmart and Tesla settle a lawsuit over fires at Walmart stores allegedly caused by solar panels.
  • FirstEnergy says it is planning to propose to Ohio regulators to decouple the company’s revenues from the amount of electricity it sells.
  • Minnesota utilities are reexamining demand charges on EV fast chargers.

Michigan Energy Events

Michigan EIBC Board Member and Lean & Green Michigan CEO Bali Kumar will speak at the Energy and Environment townhall on Nov. 12 at Walsh College Auditorium in Troy, Mich.

Michigan EIBC’s Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will be held Nov. 14 in East Lansing, featuring keynote speaker Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Tickets are sold out, but some seats may open up. Please email Nicole Forward at to get your name put on the waiting list.

On Dec. 3, Michigan EIBC will hold its next Energy 101 session at the Michigan House Office Building. The topic is Big Data and Smart Buildings, and registration is coming soon. Note that this meeting is for Michigan EIBC members, state legislators and legislative staff only.   

National Energy Events

The U.S. Commercial Service has organized the Clean Energy and Zero Emission Vehicle Technologies Trade Mission to Mexico from Nov. 18 to 23. This one-week trip for U.S. companies involves one-on-one meetings, conferences, roundtables, a networking reception and OEM and tier 1 plant visits with the automotive and clean energy industry in Mexico. Contact U.S. Commercial Service Mexico Energy Industry Specialist Claudia Salgado at The U.S. Commercial Service is also offering free consultancies for Michigan EIBC members interested in these business sectors in Mexico.

EUCI’s The Electric Vehicle-Utility Industry Nexus: Charging Forward conference is in Denver, Colo., on Dec. 2 to 3 and counts as a continuing education course. Sign up here.Infocast’s Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit is in San Diego from Feb. 4 to Feb. 6, 2020.


 Orion Township in Oakland County has issued an RFP for a design build project to provide a 15.5-kW solar power system by Dec. 31, 2019. Potential bidders can view this RFP here.

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.