Federal Infrastructure, Comments on Consumers Energy IRP and More

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:

Infrastructure Bill Has Provisions for Transmission, EVs, Battery Storage and More

 The effort to pass federal legislation to shore up clean energy infrastructure has gone through many twists and turns. The infrastructure bill (called the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”), which already passed the U.S. Senate, passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The $1.2 trillion bill contains about $80 billion in provisions related to energy. Some of the most significant include:

  • $2.5 billion for a revolving loan fund for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help spur the construction of new or modified transmission lines. The DOE “could buy up to 50% of planned capacity for such projects, which the DOE may sell after determining the project has become financially viable,” as reported by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
  • $6 billion for DOE grant programs for battery research, including second life use of EV batteries in energy storage.
  • $5 billion for states to install public EV chargers.
  • $3.5 billion for low-income home weatherization.
  • $1 billion for “building energy codes, new revolving loan funds supporting commercial building and home upgrades, public school and federal building upgrades, and worker training,” as described by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Much of this funding will be dispersed to the states as grants. Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman recently wrote about ways that Michigan can use federal funds to promote competitiveness in the advanced energy industry. A second bill, called the Build Back Better Act, contains more advanced energy provisions and is expected to be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks.  


Testimony Shows How Consumers Energy Can Include More Energy Storage, Distributed Energy, CHP in its Long-term Plans 

Michigan EIBC, along with the Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI) and Clean Grid Alliance (CGA), filed testimony recently finding that Consumers Energy’s long-term integrated resource plan (IRP) does not give proper consideration to combined heat and power (CHP), distributed energy resources, energy storage, utility-scale renewables and third-party owned resources, and recommends ways the IRP should be revised so the utility’s long-term plans are not biased against these advanced energy resources.

Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman testified as an expert witness on CHP, distributed energy and the IRP’s approach to competitive procurement and power purchase agreements. As the Michigan Energy Office identified in the “CHP Roadmap for Michigan,” “CHP provides a path to make Michigan businesses more competitive by lowering and stabilizing energy costs, reducing strain on the electric grid, improving on-site reliability and resiliency, and lowering harmful greenhouse gas emissions.” But, as Dr. Sherman testified, Consumers Energy’s IRP did not evaluate CHP as both a supply-side and demand-side resource, and, in the process “missed the opportunity to potentially save ratepayer dollars and support state and federal policies aimed at decarbonization.”

Similarly, in its models that inform the investments Consumers Energy will make for years to come, the IRP did not include distributed energy resources (DERs) as potential supply resources, thus excluding from consideration all the ways that rooftop solar, behind-the-meter batteries and other DERs can help provide power supply.

Dr. Sherman’s testimony recommends that the IRP be changed so that it meaningfully evaluates CHP and considers ways for Consumers Energy to pursue DERs above and beyond the legal caps on distributed generation in its service territory. It also recommends that the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) reject Consumers Energy’s proposal to own at least 50% of the resources acquired under the IRP and instead require that at least 50% of the resources come from power purchase agreements signed by the utility.

Michigan EIBC and IEI also filed testimony from two expert witnesses, Strategen Consulting Senior Director Ed Burgess and Clean Grid Alliance Senior Counsel and Regional Policy Manager (East) Sean Brady. Burgess analyzed how the IRP “paint(ed) an overly pessimistic picture” that unrealistically favors natural gas plants over energy storage, while Brady testified on how errors in the IRP’s methodology “stacked the deck against adding renewable and battery resources.”

Read the full testimony, as filed with the MPSC.   


MPSC Conference Examines Reliability and Performance-Based Regulation

Michigan regulators are closely considering how to respond to the challenge posed to reliability by a changing climate, and advanced energy will be a critical component of that response, as discussed at the MPSC’s Technical Conference on Emergency Preparedness, Distribution Reliability, and Storm Response held Nov. 5.

There needs to be a recognition that distributed energy resources can be a source of both resiliency and reliability, Amy Heart, senior director of policy at Michigan EIBC member Sunrun, said in a panel at the conference. DERs can provide those services in passive ways, like demand response programs in which the utility adjusts customer demand, but also active ways, like bring-your-own-device programs in which the customers themselves use battery systems, rooftop solar and other DERs to improve both reliability and resiliency.

The difficulty is how regulators can best push utilities to adopt these kinds of innovative responses. Michigan EIBC and Advanced Energy Economy have been stressing the need to move toward more performance-based regulation (PBR) to align utility incentives with the changes the grid needs. Elaine Prause, senior associate at the Regulatory Assistance Project, gave a presentation that dove deep into PBR and how it can be structured. A goal for PBR is to steer utilities from just reacting to grid problems to “taking preventative, practical actions addressed through managed investments,” Prause said. Those actions can include taking steps to make customers better able to withstand severe weather events through weatherized and efficient buildings.

It should be stressed that while increasing severe weather makes the problem worse, reliability issues are not new for Michigan. Douglas Jester, managing partner at Michigan EIBC member 5 Lakes Energy, gave a presentation that traced the over 25-year history of Michigan utility reliability performance falling in the 4th quartile of all investor-owned utilities. Despite that poor performance, rates are also high in Michigan, and that problem is getting worse as the grid ages and as it is threatened by the changing climate. “Michigan residential cost per kWh has gone up rapidly compared to the US average while Michigan industrial cost per kWh has stayed flat near the national average. This is mostly due to increasing distribution system costs,” Jester said.  

New Members

Capital Power
Capital Power is a growth-oriented North American power producer, publicly traded (TSX:CPX), and headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta and U.S. headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. We create dependable, cost-effective and innovative electricity solutions to power a sustainable future for generations to come. As a group of experts and innovators in our field, we work to deliver responsible power for communities across Canada and the U.S. We develop, acquire, own, and operate power generation facilities using a variety of energy sources. Currently, we own over 7,400 megawatts (MW) of power generation capacity including wind, solar and natural gas. We are a growth-oriented North American power producer, publicly traded (TSX:CPX), and headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta. We create dependable, cost-effective and innovative electricity solutions to power a sustainable future for generations to come. As a group of experts and innovators in our field, we work to deliver responsible power for communities across Canada and the U.S. We develop, acquire, own, and operate power generation facilities using a variety of energy sources. Currently, we own over 6,400 megawatts (MW) of power generation capacity at 26 facilities.  

Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC USMitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS) is a leading provider of ductless and VRF (variable refrigerant flow) systems in the United States and Latin America. With unmatched energy efficiency, performance and control, it’s never been easier to make any home, any building, anywhere more comfortable and energy efficient. Plus our all-electric systems help mitigate climate change by lowering your carbon footprint.   

Utopian PowerUtopian Power is a Michigan-based clean energy development company focused on providing localized solutions that fit the needs of our customers and their communities.  With a mission statement of “Accelerating renewable energy adoption by providing responsible energy options to communities, be they individuals, businesses, cities, regions, or the world.”
Utopian Power offers management and execution of clean energy projects, including consultation, development, finance, design, and construction; with a market focus on municipal, community or utility scale energy developments. 

Fishbeck is a full-service architectural/engineering, civil engineering, environmental,
and construction services consulting firm. Since 1956, we have provided our
clients with innovative designs, technical quality, and exceptional service.
We help people realize their visions while benefiting society.

Renewing Member

With over 40 years of combined experience in the electrical utility industry, ecojiva, LLC is a full-service solar energy management system provider. ecojiva, LLC designs Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy solutions for agriculture, commercial, and industrial enterprises, and is a full-service turn-key enterprise from inception to completion. Our engineers design PV systems that provide access to power independent of the utility grid, and creates surplus power that can be returned to the grid. Founded by utility industry veteran Sridhar K. Ayer, ecojiva, LLC is committed to energy innovation in the solar industry not only as a technology provider but through education and advocacy as well. The company’s expertise also encompasses Transmission & Distribution design services, patent-pending eco-DMT™ energy management system, and ecoSEMS™ complete solar energy solutions.  


Michigan Energy News

  • The University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) launches the new SEAS Sustainability Clinic, which aims to “improve the ability of the City of Detroit and nonprofits serving the City to address the impacts of climate change on the natural and built environment, human health, and the city’s finances.”
  • City-owned solar microgrids could be a key to Ann Arbor’s quest to form a “sustainable energy utility” that is supplemental to DTE, Ann Arbor sustainability manager Missy Stults says.
  • Recently introduced bills involving community solar and electric choice could be a prelude to a debate over much larger energy legislation in 2023 and 2024, Andy Balaskovitz writes in MiBiz.
  • Consumers Energy says it wants to be the “one-stop shop” for residential customers who want to get set up for EVs at their homes.
  • Michigan State University is getting a self-driving bus to ferry students, staff and visitors 2.5 miles from a commuter lot to campus.
  • Attorney General Dana Nessel and 22 other attorneys general call for an increase in corporate average fuel economy standards for vehicles with model years 2024 to 2026.

National Energy News

  • Texas regulators approve the application of Tesla subsidiary Tesla Energy Ventures to be a retail electricity provider.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs an executive order that would move his state’s government to an all-electric fleet by 2035.
  • A $2 billion pumped storage hydropower project is proposed in Washington state.
  • Experts see EV purchases reaching a “tipping point” if Congress passes new incentives.
  • California could meet its emissions reduction targets at much lower cost by delaying the planned retirement of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, a report from Stanford and MIT researchers finds.
  • Louisiana, a state whose economy has been driven by petrochemicals, is exploring how to cut emissions by switching industries to run on electricity and green hydrogen.


Job Board

We are debuting a new section of the newsletter for Michigan EIBC members to post job openings in advanced energy fields. If you have a job announcement you would like in the newsletter, please send a paragraph describing the position and a link to apply to Matt Bandyk at matt@mieibc.org. Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.

Energy Sciences

Position: Senior Retro-Commissioning Engineer, Metro Detroit

“As a senior retro-commissioning engineer with Energy Sciences, you will join our team of degreed and licensed engineers, scientists, and energy efficiency professionals to meet the energy use challenges of commercial and industrial facilities. We’re looking for experienced and talented technical team members to assist our clients, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, in making their building systems work, identifying energy-savings opportunities, reducing waste, and saving operating cost. You will play a key role in a growing company that is dedicated to driving our vision of a sustainable and socially responsible energy future, working in an exciting, collaborative environment.”

Foresight Management

Positions: Senior Project Manager, Sales Coordinator, Business Development Rep

Foresight is hiring for these and other positions. Visit the Careers page here.

NOVI Energy

Position: Project Engineer, Novi, MI

NOVI Energy is growing, and they need your help. This month, they announced a joint venture with Osaka Gas USA to develop over 1000 MW of solar power generation facilities, enough solar and storage to power more than 150,000 homes with clean, affordable energy while creating good-paying jobs. This is one of several exciting projects NOVI Energy is developing! Learn more about their company and available Project Engineer positions. See open positions here.   


Position: Senior Associate, Market Development and Policy

SunPower is seeking a Senior Associate, Market Development and Policy, to advocate on SunPower’s behalf on state policy with various public service commissions, state legislatures, and state agencies to drive residential, commercial and community solar and energy storage adoption in the Midwest U.S., particularly in Illinois and Michigan. The successful candidate must be a self-starter, comfortable working remotely, and have experience navigating various regulatory dockets, reviewing public comments, and summarizing state legislation. Frequent travel within the Midwest region may be required at times.  Location is flexible, although presence in Illinois is preferred.  

Michigan and National Energy Events

The Distributed Wind Energy Association’s DIstributed Wind 2021 Conference and Lobby Day in Arlington, Va., has been postponed to Nov. 15-18. Tickets can be purchased for in-person attendance or virtual attendance

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. Michigan EIBC members can register using code MIEIBC2021 for a 5% discount off nonmember passes.  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 Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is accepting proposals for Rural Development Fund Grants. Proposals are due on Nov. 18. The U.S. Department of Energy has an opportunity for $105 million in funding for small businesses that are working to deploy clean energy technologies. “This funding opportunity is open to small businesses that have previously received SBIR or STTR grants to provide additional opportunities to compete for funding to develop working prototypes of their discoveries,” according to the DOE.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light has put out a Request for Information for Energy Storage. Responses are due Nov. 30More information here.

Michigan EIBC member Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University is now accepting applications for its C3 Accelerator. Apply here by Jan. 10, 2022. C3 is a growth stage Accelerator with up to $1.6M in funding in the form of grants, investments, and services to support the product development and scaling of Cleantech, Climatech, and Circular Economy technologies.

The Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4) is seeking a full-time contract position to provide coordination of C4 leadership, organizational representatives, Grand Rapids residents, and the program deliverables.

State of Michigan DNR is going big in solar with projects in the ground, others in development and additional ones being planned. DNR has released a Request for Proposal for Prequalification Program for Renewable Energy PPAs: www.michigan.gov/sigmavss. Use “Guess Access” to get the RFP. A previous round of pre-qualifications netted solar companies that then were able to bid on a portfolio of DNR solar projects in Southwest Michigan. Another portfolio in the Northern Region is in the works for later this year. Only companies who pre-qualify can bid on future DNR solar projects. Please direct all correspondence to the Solicitation Manager, Laura Gyorkos at gyorkosL@michigan.gov.
 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.