Green Pricing Programs, Electrifiying Buildings and Virtual EV Test Drive

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:

How To Improve Voluntary Green Pricing Programs

Just a few years ago, Michigan utilities had no defined programs allowing corporate customers to directly purchase renewable energy. Today, DTE and Consumers Energy are signing up C&I customers who want to support wind and solar projects. Michigan EIBC has been an active voice throughout the legislative and regulatory process that led to these programs, pushing for changes focused on the criteria companies are looking for when they choose renewables: low-cost pricing driven by competitive bidding and flexibility to allow for customizing the term, type and amount of energy purchased, among others.

Consumers Energy first filed for a green purchasing program for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers in 2017. That proposal, as Michigan EIBC, Advanced Energy Economy and other groups argued in briefs filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), had limited options for customizing a renewable energy purchasing plan to fit individual customer needs, such as a specific term length, and lacked the ability for expansion with increasing demand. After its initial filing was rejected, because of flaws highlighted by Michigan EIBC including unreasonably high costs, in 2018, DTE filed a revised application for its C&I green tariff program. The approved program has now enrolled a number of large customers including the Detroit Zoo, University of Michigan, and General Motors. 

With guidance from the MPSC and feedback from stakeholders, utilities have improved the depth and breadth of these programs. Now, Consumers Energy has filed for expansions of its green tariff programs, including a proposal for behind-the-meter renewable energy projects. Michigan EIBC recently filed expert witness testimony from Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman and Caitlin Marquis, Director at Advanced Energy Economy in the case that outlines some ways to improve Consumers Energy’s proposal, including expanding options for C&I customers and ensuring a fair behind-the-meter solar market.   


Public Event On Transforming Energy Use In The Built Environment

The electrification of heating, hot water, cooling and other energy-intensive systems in the built environment is an essential part of many efficiency and emissions reduction plans being implemented by states, cities and businesses large and small. Michigan EIBC invites all members of the public to learn more at the June 9 Energy in the Built Environment Webinar from 12 to 1 pm.

The event features Donnel Baird, founder of BlocPower, a Brooklyn-based startup that since 2012 has completed energy projects in nearly 1,000 buildings and delivers results ahead of schedule and under budget. BlocPower utilizes its proprietary software for analysis, leasing, project management, and monitoring of urban clean energy projects and its customers are saving 20-40% on their energy bills each year. Baird will discuss why building electrification is a growing trend and how it’s unfolding in his daily work. 

The event also features Jacob Corvidae, principal at the Rocky Mountain Institute, who will provide an overview of the latest developments in energy use and generation in the built environment, including developments around building electrification, the integration of distributed energy resources, demand response, and overall building efficiency practices. 

Register here

Virtual EV Test Drive Coming Up on June 2

The Institute for Energy Innovation and Plug In America will hold a unique event for Michigan legislators and staff on Tuesday, June 2 that will give a whole new meaning to “Zoom meeting.” The Virtual Energy 101 webinar will explore our mobility future and will include a virtual EV test drive from a local driver.

It will also include a panel discussion featuring:

  • James Chen, Vice President, Public Policy, Rivian
  • Stuart Irwin, President, EVolution Electric Vehicle Systems, LLC
  • Matt Stanberry, Managing Director, Advanced Energy Economy

This webinar is for Michigan state legislators, legislative staff, and EIBC members only. Please contact us to get an invite. 

Michigan Energy News

  • The catastrophic dam failure in Midland County is a sign of the growing impacts of climate change in the Midwest.
  • Gov. Whitmer is directing the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to investigate the causes of the dam failure.
  • A new Union of Concerned Scientists report finds that the way DTE and Consumers Energy, among other utilities, are dispatching their coal plants is creating unnecessary costs for ratepayers.
  • A proposed consent decree between DTE and environmental groups, related to pollution from several DTE coal plants, goes further than a settlement on the same issue between DTE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including additional requirements for how DTE must spend on new electric school or transit buses for communities affected by pollution.
  • Enbridge discovers gaps in the protective coating of its Line 5 pipeline.
  • Utilities are extending shutoff protections and assistance related to the pandemic through June 12.

National Energy News

  • The lithium industry is taking a hit from the expected effects of the recession on EV use.
  • The Sierra Club releases a $6 trillion stimulus plan that includes $320 billion for clean energy jobs.
  • survey of solar energy firms in New York state finds that the industry thinks the pandemic set them back about six months to a year.
  • State attorneys general have been largely successful in lawsuits against the Trump administration’s environmental and energy policies.
  • new study finds that using EVs is cheaper than running vehicles on diesel or gas in the largest U.S. cities, with some exceptions.
  • Southern Co. announces a net-zero emissions goal by 2050.

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.”

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

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

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

The Midwest Solar Expo, previously scheduled from May 19-21, has been rescheduled to June 15-17 as a 3D Virtual Event.


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. 5 Lakes Energy is seeking to hire a full-time campaign coordinator for the Land and Liberty Coalition, a Midwest regional collaborative fighting at the local level for the successful siting of renewable energy projects. Click here for the full job description including responsibilities, qualifications, and application instructions.

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

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has two new RFPs related to renewable energy projects at the Oden Fish Hatchery. The RFPs are published on the state’s online bidding portal. Search for numbers 20*1376 and 20*1377 (Note: These RFPs have been put on hold until further notice).

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also plans to publish a RFP for leasing state forest land to utility-scale solar arrays. Go to the online bidding portal and use commodity code 91018 – Energy Systems, Solar Installation Systems.

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 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.