Ford’s New EV Mustang and Michigan Biomass

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 Mustang Mach-E Is The Company’s Newest EV Play

Michigan automakers continue to lead the automated, connected, electrified, and shared  mobility future. And they’re doing this with iconic brands. The latest big play from Ford came at the L.A. Auto Show with the unveiling of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, an all-electric SUV. The Mach-E will arrive in late 2020 and have a range of “at least” 300 miles, Ford says. Consumers can already reserve one of the new Mustangs online.

In January, Reuters reported that Ford planned to launch 24 new hybrid vehicles and 16 new fully electric vehicles by 2022. Since then, Ford has also announced the development of an all-electric F-150 pickup truck. Meanwhile, GM has planned to launch 23 new EVs by 2023, and FCA’s Jeep plans to offer 10 plug-in hybrid models and four fully electric models by 2022.

As industry leaders explored at Michigan EIBC’s recent 9th EV Convening, increasing demand for EVs in Michigan will require more charging infrastructure along with innovative business models. Reinventing iconic models like the F-150 and the Mustang as EVs, will likely encourage demand for EVs, providing more capital and consumers for EV charging. Ford is also taking on the challenge of sufficient charging infrastructure through a collaboration with Michigan EIBC member Greenlots on the FordPass Charging Network.

Michigan Biomass Provides Resiliency and Renewable Diversity

Last week, Energy News Network published an article exploring the future of wood-fired biomass power plants in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. One of those plants is scheduled to close in 2022, and others face uncertainty about whether they can receive contracts to sell their power once their current contracts expire. Michigan Biomass, the coalition that represents six plants that use wood waste to generate electricity, has been a member of Michigan EIBC since 2015. 

Biomass provides a number of unique attributes to Michigan’s renewable sector, one of which is baseload generation. Biomass made up 13% of all renewable electricity generation in 2017, the second-biggest renewable source after wind, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s (MPSC) recent final statewide energy assessment. 

Biomass, therefore, plays a big part in diversifying the state’s renewable energy supply. As the assessment explains, resource diversity has inherent value. Having more choices for renewable energy sources makes the electric grid more resilient, and helps ensure that if portions of the electricity generation system are disrupted by weather or other unpredictable events, there are backups to still provide low-emissions energy.

Resiliency and diversity should be given full consideration in Michigan’s energy policy. “A framework to capture the value of diversity in generation resources should also consider the value provided by Michigan biomass facilities, as well as other emerging technologies such as battery storage,” the assessment said.

As we previously discussed when Michigan EIBC VP of Policy Cory Connolly visited one of the Michigan Biomass facilities this summer, the wood-burning plants also provide a productive use for wood waste that is otherwise discarded, such as residuals from timber harvest and forest management, byproducts from forest products manufacturing, and wood diverted from landfills like pallets used in industry and debris from landscaping and storm clean-up. The six biomass plants spend an average of $28 million a year in fuel, which keeps that portion of the dollars Michigan consumers pay for electricity in the communities that provide those resources.

“Biomass power generation isn’t the easiest way to make electricity, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor considering all the values it brings to the state,” said Gary Melow, Director of Michigan Biomass. “It’s homegrown, domestic, Michigan-made energy that’s a part of sustainable forestry, and provides an environmentally- and economically-sound method of managing these wastes, turning them into a reliable source of power that bolsters the state’s energy portfolio and grid support.  


Photos from the Michigan Energy Innovators Gala

 Thank you to everyone who made Michigan EIBC’s 7th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on Nov. 14 a big success. 

MPSC Commissioner Dan Scripps speaks at the Gala

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Director and former Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark, winner of Public Official of the Year

Carla Walker-Miller of Walker-Miller Energy Services accepts the award for Business of the Year

Carla Walker-Miller

PACENERGIES, winners of the Emerging Business of the Year

Energy Innovators Hall of Fame inductees Jim MacInnes of Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa and Britta K. Gross of Rocky Mountain Institute

Michigan Energy Options Executive Director John Kinch accepting the award for Project of the Year for East Lansing Community Solar Park

Gov. Whitmer signing the solar legislation

Gov. Whitmer and Michigan EIBC staff 

Michigan Energy News

  • As Gov. Whitmer signs solar property tax legislation, Michigan EIBC member Ranger Power moves ahead with some of the biggest solar projects yet.
  • One of those projects, the River Fork Solar Energy Center, receives a permit from the Sheridan Township Planning Commission and Board.
  • Gov. Whitmer announces a partnership with autonomous vehicle technology company Mobileye to install collision avoidance equipment on 100 Michigan state fleet vehicles.
  • Michigan EIBC member ITC Holdings is planning about $700 million to $800 million a year in reliability improvements over the next five years.
  • Energy Central reports the full text of Gov. Whitmer’s speech from the Michigan Energy Innovators Gala.
  • DTE says its Charging Forward program has approved 150 rebates for EV charger ports.

National Energy News

  • New York City will receive its largest solar array yet in a project at JFK Airport that will also include 7.5 MW of battery storage.
  • Energy efficiency can be a low-cost option for utilities to meet peak demand, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study.
  • Lyft deploys 200 long-range EVs in Denver, the largest EV deployment in Colorado history.
  • A dozen Florida municipal utilities break ground on a solar project that will consist of 900,000 panels at two sites.
  • The state of Minnesota plans to use over half of its funds from the Volkswagen emissions settlement to help electrify the state’s transportation sector.
  • Nonprofit energy conservation districts are encouraging distributed energy in Iowa.

Michigan Energy Events

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 available now. Note that this meeting is for Michigan EIBC members, state legislators and legislative staff only.

The 3rd Annual Sustainable Detroit Soiree, from the U.S. Green Building Council and the Detroit 2030 District is scheduled for Dec. 5Get tickets here.

Michigan EIBC member Michigan Energy Options is holding a winter solar webinar series. The first webinar, on Dec. 13, is on the topic of “Solar Plus Storage as Resiliency” and will feature Clean Energy Group VP and Project Director Seth Mullendore.  

National Energy Events

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.


St. Johns Public Schools is seeking bids from contractors to design, build, own and operate, maintain and potentially finance a solar installation on school district property. Bids close on Dec. 3.
 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.