Energy Storage Convening Recap, New Chief Mobility Officer, Member Companies Win Awards

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:

Michigan EIBC Kicks Off Energy Storage Stakeholder Convenings

Energy storage has come a long way, but in the big picture, it is “still in its nascency,” Jigar Shah, president of Michigan EIBC member Generate Capital and co-host of The Energy Gang podcast, said in his remarks at Michigan EIBC’s first energy storage convening on July 8. As several speakers concluded, there is still a tremendous amount of yet-to-be-realized potential for storage and the energy storage market in Michigan. The participants in the convening – both panelists and, through breakout groups in room, attendees – talked about the possibilities for storage to expand the services it provides, and the regulatory changes that can get it there.

Powerful economic forces are pushing storage forward. “Folks have recognized that peaker plants running less than 100 hours a year are not worth making capacity payments to,” Shah said, and lithium-ion batteries and other types of storage can replace those plants and deal with peak demand. Ron DiFelice of Michigan EIBC member Southern Current mentioned a white paper he wrote that shows that around 10% of Michigan’s peak demand could be addressed through storage more cost-effectively than it is today. “We’re actively trying to get support for a policy change” that would allow storage to provide that, he said. Marc Chupka, Vice President of Research and Programs for the Energy Storage Association, talked about the landscape of federal and state policies that affect storage – the “most powerful lever” in terms of policy actions has been mandatory targets for procurement of storage, he said.

Voluntary sustainability targets adopted by corporations like GM and Ford will drive further growth of energy storage, according to panelist Christian Dick of Michigan EIBC member Ameresco. “The sustainability programs and binding commitments that these public and private customers are making are ultimately going to be a force in the Michigan market and nationally,” he said.

Storage might be relatively new and its full applications are still being explored. But at the same time, energy storage is here, and growing. “People talk about storage as being this new, interesting science project on the grid. This isn’t a science project,” Katherine Peretick of Michigan EIBC member NRStor said. “This is a real technology that provides benefits to the electric grid. All we are looking for is a regulatory environment and offtaker that is willing to pay the appropriate price for those services.”  

More on the Executive-Level Mobility Office for the State of Michigan

At the end of last week, Gov. Whitmer formally launched the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. This is a major milestone for Michigan’s ongoing efforts to thrive as a center of electric and autonomous vehicle technology, so the significance of this announcement cannot be overemphasized.

The new office will be led by Trevor Pawl as Chief Mobility Officer. Pawl previously directed the PlanetM mobility initiative as the Senior Vice President of Business Innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. PlanetM has distributed grants to mobility companies so they can access testing facilities such as Mcity at the University of Michigan, helped develop business models around advanced mobility, and, in Pawl’s words, has worked to make Michigan “a leader in the development of connected and automated vehicles.” He also has been a panelist at several Michigan EIBC events, such as our 2017 Powering Mobility Conference and an electric vehicle convening last year.

The timing is good for this new office, as the state of Michigan is about to deploy funds from the Volkswagen settlement to shift school buses, state fleets and other types of vehicles toward electric vehicles. We outlined many of the steps the state can take to speed up transportation electrification in an Institute for Energy Innovation report, Administrative Actions to Electrify Transportation in Michigan, released late last year. 

Michigan EIBC looks forward to working with Trevor and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification on the state’s continuing development as an advanced mobility hub. 

Michigan EIBC Member Companies Win Michigan Celebrates Small Business Awards

 Two Michigan EIBC companies are receiving recognition in this year’s Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards, an annual event held by Michigan Celebrates Small Business (MCSB). MCSB is a non-profit organization, formed in 2004 by groups including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Michigan District Office.
The member companies included in this year’s winners are: 

Prime Energy C.S. – 2020 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch

Walker-Miller Energy Services – Michigan 50 Distinguished Alumni Award for Most Engaged Workplace

MCSB will present the awards at its virtual gala on July 28.  

Annual Member Meeting on Aug. 27

Michigan EIBC members are invited to attend the Annual Member Meeting from noon to 1 pm on Aug. 27, the same day as the 8th Annual Energy Innovators Conference (which will begin at 1:30 pm). Register here.

The meeting will include the election of new board members, the latest policy developments and time for networking.

Our guest speaker is Commissioner Tremaine Phillips of the Michigan Public Service Commission. 

Michigan EIBC members will be sent a calendar invitation to the event. Not a member yet? Click here to join!

Michigan Energy News

  • The Trump administration says a settlement between DTE and the Sierra Club that would close three coal power plants goes too far.
  • Michigan ratepayers are eligible for bill credits if their power is out for certain periods of time, but many of these credits go uncollected.
  • Michigan regulators can improve electric reliability with the use of performance-based regulation, according to a new report from the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan.
  • The group Environment Michigan is advocating for legislation to require new homes in the state to have rooftop solar.
  • The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approves DTE’s renewable energy plan, including 353 MW of wind and solar projects.
  • The MPSC also approves a new plan under which DTE will not raise electric rates until 2022.

National Energy News

  • There were 65.5% more utility-scale solar installations in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2019, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
  • Financial analysts say that the failures of several recent pipeline projects is making renewable energy less risky than fossil fuels for utilities.
  • The New York Times reports that coal’s decline is setting up a major battle between renewable energy and natural gas.
  • Minnesota’s community solar program continues to be the largest in the country despite hurdles it has had to overcome.
  • PacifiCorp is bringing up to 4.3 GW of wind, solar and battery storage to the Mountain West in its latest procurement.
  • FERC needs to proactively confront power sector vulnerabilities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee says.

Online Resources

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.

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.

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

Every Tuesday at noon from June 23 to August 25, Michigan EIBC member Michigan CAT is holding an Advanced Energy 101 training series of webinars for engineers, focusing on software tools, design resources and project development for distributed power generation systems. Participants can earn up to 10 professional development hours. Register for free by June 22.

Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education’s workshop on simulating the payback of solar PV systems has sessions on July 28, July 30, Aug 4 and Aug 6Learn more here.

The Michigan Energy Providers Conference is switching to a virtual format and will occur on July 30.

PlugVolt’s next Battery Seminar has been postponed from the previous dates of July 21-23 to October 6-8 in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. 

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

On July 13, the Clean Energy Leadership Institute and Trajectory Energy Partners are holding a webinar on Community Solar 101 and Deployment in Illinois.

Engineers from Toyota, consultants from Boston Consulting and researchers from Automotive Futures will be speaking at the Powertrain Strategies for the 21st Century Conference on July 15 about how EVs could become the dominant powertrain in the U.S. Registration.

The Great Plains Institute is holding a webinar series on the Midwestern clean fuels policy. Two webinars will discuss how a clean fuels policy can support transportation electrification, starting with experience in California (July 20 webinar) and ending with the potential impacts for the Midwest (Aug 4 webinar). Learn more here.


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources released new RFPs for utility-scale solar systems at sites in northern Michigan, one in Dickinson County and the other in Crawford County. Find more information here.

The Kent County Department of Public Works is looking for an anchor tenant for its planned Sustainable Business Park. Learn about the RFP here.

The Green Task Force is requesting that non-profit and faith-based organizations fill out a brief survey to assess readiness for solar projects.

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.

Ann Arbor Public Schools have an RFP for an electric bus charging station.

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 to find out more information including how a building can apply.

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.