- 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:
Ford’s New F-150 Lightning Is A Big Step Forward for V2G Services and Charging Using Rooftop Solar
“This sucker’s quick!” That was President Biden’s reaction when he test drove the new all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck in Dearborn this week. Many aspects of the newly unveiled vehicle dispel stereotypes about EVs—it has even more torque and storage capacity than the best-selling conventional F-150, can accelerate to 60 mph faster than any F-series truck model and it is affordably priced at under $40,000.
But the most historic thing about the Ford F-150 Lightning may not be just about the truck itself, but the groundbreaking way it can interact with the grid and distributed generation. It may be the first mass-consumer vehicle where vehicle-to-grid services are one of the main selling points. The truck’s extended-range battery can provide “full-home power for up to three days, or as long as 10 days if power is rationed, with results varying based on energy usage,” according to Ford. This capability will be the foundation for the planned Ford Intelligent Power service, which will use the truck to provide power during peak hours, supporting the wider electric grid, and charge vehicles at night with in-expensive off-peak power.
In addition, Michigan EIBC member Sunrun has a deal with Ford where solar companies will offer “easy installation” of the Ford Charge Station Pro and integrate it with solar arrays.
“The solar energy partnership Ford announced with Michigan EIBC member Sunrun is historic
in that consumers will have an all-in-one system to power their homes and vehicles,” Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman said in a press statement.
Ford’s announcement, however, emphasizes the need to remove the cap on distributed generation so that more customers can adopt rooftop solar and combine it with innovative new products like the F-150 Lightning. “In Michigan, the limit on rooftop solar for homeowners and businesses would impede this solar integration, leaving many Michigan electric vehicle consumers to plug into outlets powered by fossil fuels,” Sherman said.
Rooftop Solar Is Becoming More and More Affordable For The Average Household—Highlighting the Imperative to Lift the DG Cap
The median income of a rooftop solar user has been steadily falling, according to a recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). This is an important and underappreciated finding—more and more homeowners are able to afford solar as costs for solar power have dropped. That is why it is frustrating to see opponents of the growth of rooftop solar continue to try to argue against measures like the legislation to eliminate the distributed generation cap by portraying rooftop solar as a mere luxury for the wealthy.
DTE and Consumers Energy recently falsely claimed that lower-income customers subsidize richer ones who use rooftop solar. This argument fails to recognize the fact that rooftop solar has been getting more and more accessible for all, and the main barriers to that trend continuing are policies like the very caps the utilities are defending. Maintaining a cap on distributed generation would only ensure that fewer people can install their own solar panels. That would also erode the impressive economies of scale generated by the growing rooftop solar industry that has helped drive down costs. As the LBNL study reveals, the gap between the median income of a rooftop solar user and the median income of the broader population has significantly fallen from $72,000 in 2010 to $49,000 in 2019.
In addition to the LBNL study, the Traverse Ticker has an article that is not only a great overview of the distributed generation cap issue, but also has an in-depth interview with Rep. John Roth, a member of the House Energy Committee, about the state of the battle to eliminate the cap.
Roth explains recent events with HB 4236. The utilities “went and decided to negotiate in the press and tell everybody that we’re trying to raise their electrical rates through the roof. And negotiations broke down at that point—though there is something the energy companies worked through the energy chair [into the bill], and they call it their ‘compromise,’ but it actually takes us backward from where we are today,” he said.
But Roth made clear that the need to eliminate the cap is as imperative as ever in the face of this resistance.
“We need a vibrant solar energy industry,” Roth said. “We need to make sure that they know that there is a place in Michigan for [those businesses]. And with these caps, there isn’t. There is no viable reason they’d want to start a company to do this.”
June 15 Storage Convening Will Be On Distribution and Transmission Applications of Storage
Recent actions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are set to create new opportunities for energy storage. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) has until June of 2022 to implement FERC Order 841, which opens up wholesale electricity markets to storage. That is about three years sooner than MISO had wanted, but FERC recently denied the grid operator’s request to delay the implementation deadline until 2025.
To help us navigate these developing opportunities for storage, Michigan EIBC’s next virtual Energy Storage Convening on June 15 (9 am – 11 am, virtual) will be about Distribution and Transmission Applications of Storage. Speakers will include:
~ Commissioner Katherine Peretick, MPSC
~ Sarah Martz, Alliant Energy
~ Perspectives from storage developers
The meeting is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).
Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, with employees around the world, General Motors is a company with global scale and capabilities. Our Vision is a World With Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions and Zero Congestion. Our diverse team brings their collective passion for engineering, technology, and design to deliver on this ambitious future, and the bold commitments we’ve made are moving us closer to realizing this vision.
SEEL (Solutions for Energy Efficient Logistics)
One of the leading nationally certified minority business enterprise, service-disabled veteran owned providers of energy efficiency solutions in the nation, SEEL is an energy efficiency program implementation, management and training contractor. SEEL embraces the mantra, “Every utility customer deserves a path to energy efficiency.” To achieve maximum results for its utility customers, SEEL integrates its in-house services, proprietary digital platform, eSMART, and its unique ability to bring energy saving solutions to hard-to-reach communities to achieve maximum results for its utility customers. SEEL offers a suite of energy management services to households, multifamily dwellings and small businesses on behalf of its utility customers throughout the Midwest and southern regions of the United States. SEEL also offers workforce development, in-house weatherization services and BPI Training. Most recently, the company was named the 2020 and 2019 Supplier of the Year by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).
Michigan Energy News
- University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel presented to the university’s Board of Regents plans to achieve carbon neutrality by switching to 100% renewable energy purchases by 2025, cutting indirect emissions like from commuting and travel by 2025 and finally eliminating all direct emissions like those from natural gas heating and cooling on campus by 2040.
- The cities of Ann Arbor and Ferndale and Washtenaw County join the “Race to Zero” campaign to cut their greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and down to zero by 2050.
- Michigan EIBC member Homeland Solar completes its 160-panel project at the Genesis of Ann Arbor, cutting bills and emissions for the shared space of an Episcopal church and synagogue.
- Michigan EIBC member SkySpecs has acquired two European wind energy technology companies.
- The parking garage of the Ford Research & Engineering Center now has 2,159 solar panels able to generate 1,127 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
National Energy News
- Tesla is changing the chemistry of the batteries used in its Megapack energy storage product, potentially signaling change to the broader storage industry.
- HyDeal Los Angeles, a new initiative from the Green Hydrogen Coalition, looks to build the foundation for competitive power contracts from a combination of hydrogen turbine and solar plus storage resources.
- California is taking a number of steps to avoid blackouts this summer.
- A Foxconn plant in Wisconsin may produce EVs for Fisker Inc.
- Oil and gas exploration must stop this year and new coal-fired plant construction around the globe can no longer be built if the world can achieve net zero emissions by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.
- New Jersey is taking a look at revising its solar interconnection rules to deal with the increasing volume of pending applications for interconnection.
Michigan and National Energy Events
The Michigan Climate & Clean Energy Summit on May 24-27 has an exciting lineup of speakers, including U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), U.S. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and numerous state legislators including House Energy Committee Chair Rep. Joe Bellino (D-Monroe). It also features a panel on “Electrifying and Decarbonizing Transportation” moderated by Michigan EIBC VP of Policy Cory Connolly. Registration is here.
Veterans represent 8.7% of the solar workforce, compared to -5.7% in the overall economy. The Solar Ready Vets Fellowship is a unique program that offers solar companies the opportunity to host mid-to-senior level transitioning service members for 12 weeks of on-the-job experience in professional/management roles. On May 25, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is holding a webinar about the program in which you can hear first-hand from solar companies that hosted and hired Solar Ready Vets Fellows, and learn about the benefits their companies are experiencing from this program. Register here.
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.
Centrepolis is launching its new C3 Accelerator, funded in part by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, New Economy Initiative and the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator. The accelerator will offer a total pool of $275,000 in funding including grants, equity-free interest-free investments, and services to support product development and scaling of cleantech, climatech, and circular economy technologies. A portion of these investments will be dedicated to support ventures led by women, people of color, veterans and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. Applications are due May 31, and can be submitted through this link. 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.