Newsletter: Michigan EIBC Members Testify on Nofs Energy Plan, Lobby Legislature

This newsletter was originally published on May 5, 2016.

Michigan EIBC Members Testify on Nofs Energy Plan, Lobby Legislature

(Left to Right) President and CEO Carla Walker-Miller of Walker-Miller Energy Services, Mark Hagerty of Michigan Solar Solutions, and a Michigan EIBC Board Member, fellow Michigan EIBC Board Members Scott Viciana, Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Ventower Industries, and Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark testify last Thursday to the Michigan Senate Energy and Technology Committee.


Members of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council gave testimony to the Senate Energy and Technology Committee last week, stating concerns around SB 437 and 438 and offering thoughts on how this legislation could be improved. If the legislation passes as it is currently written, it would repeal the state’s successful renewable portfolio standard, phase out the energy optimization standard, and destroy net metering in Michigan.

“A vote to repeal the renewable portfolio standard at this point will result in substantial negative national attention for Michigan, and my company would likely lose business as a result.” said Scott Viciana, Vice President for Sales and Business Development at Ventower Industries. “The amended legislation includes some improvements, and the inclusion of a clean energy goal is an important first step. That said, we remain very concerned about the repeal of the renewable standard, as well as the fact that a goal of 30 percent could be met without any additional renewable energy deployment.”

More than 87,000 work in Michigan’s advanced energy industry, according to a recent analysis by Clean Energy Trust. The report ranks Michigan alongside 11 other states. Michigan leads the Midwest region in clean energy vehicle jobs and is second in renewable energy jobs. Nearly 48 thousand Michiganders are employed in the energy efficiency industry. The current legislative package would repeal the energy optimization standard, favoring instead using an integrated resource plan (IRP). While data from other states show that adding such a planning process to efficiency standards can reduce energy consumption, an IRP alone falls far short of this goal, and is worse than efficiency standards without an IRP process.

“If the Energy Optimization Standard is replaced with a different policy that fails to eliminate energy waste, Michigan residents and businesses will pay more for more expensive options,” said Carla Walker-Miller, President and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services. “Energy optimization programs are the least expensive way for Michigan businesses and families to meet their energy needs.”

In addition to repealing the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, Senate Bill 438 would change Michigan’s net-metering program that allows businesses and families to generate their own electricity, feeding excess power back to the grid. Such measures have allowed the rooftop solar industry to grow rapidly in Michigan, growing 25 percent this year alone. The solar industry is growing ten times faster than the national economy.  

“Lawmakers should pause the net metering discussion to allow for a process aimed at generating consensus,” said Mark Hagerty, President of Michigan Solar Solutions. “Recently announced breakthroughs on net metering proposals in New York and Arizona show this is possible, and we should strive for it.” 

Also last week, a group of advanced energy businesses had one-on-one meetings with several members of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, including Vice Chair John Proos (R-St. Joseph), Minority Vice Chair Hoon-Yun Hopgood (D-Romulus), as well as Senators Steve Bieda (D-Warren), Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth), and David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights). This lobby day, jointly organized by Advanced Energy Economy, Wind on the Wires, and Michigan EIBC, also included meetings with Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall (R-White Lake), Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), Minority Floor Leader Morris Hood III (D-Detroit), and Senators, Darwin Booher (R-Evart), Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan), Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-East Lansing), Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford), and Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City). Michigan EIBC member companies participating in the day included Apex Clean Energy, CLEAResult, FirstFuel, Invenergy, and Opower.

The Senate plan has yet to move out of committee, and the House plan introduced by Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton) has yet to get a vote on the floor of the House. Michigan EIBC will continue to articulate the concerns of our business members, and work to ensure that any legislation that becomes law reflects our industry priorities.


Highlights of Michigan EIBC’s 4th Annual Member Meeting

More than 100 clean energy business owners, elected officials, and key decision makers gathered last Wednesday in East Lansing for the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council’s 4th Annual Members Meeting. Participants discussed industry trends and innovations in advanced energy and were briefed on policy developments as the legislature debates Michigan’s energy future.

“Michigan’s advanced energy industry continues to thrive and we’re well positioned to help the state meet its future energy needs as we embrace cutting-edge technologies,” said Michigan EIBC President Liesl Clark. “With renewable energy costs at record lows, energy efficiency driving billions of dollars in savings and an advanced transportation sector that is embracing new technology, consumer demand for advanced energy technologies is at an all-time high.” 

(Left to Right) Michigan Public Service Commission Chair Sally Talberg, incoming Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe, and Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark discussing the future of energy in Michigan.


Clark opened the meeting by moderating a discussion with two other Michigan energy leaders: Patti Poppe, who will take over as president and chief executive officer for Consumers Energy on July 1, and Michigan Public Service Commission Chair Sally Talberg.

Attendees also participated in panel discussions on innovations in materials and electrification are changing transportation; how advanced energy technologies are being deployed in rural areas, downtowns, and industrial parks; what the extension of the federal production tax credit and investment tax credit mean for renewable energy development; and what the next five years hold for energy efficiency.

“Advanced energy is attracting investment and creating good-paying jobs right here in Michigan,” said Lauren Bigelow, CEO of Growth Capital Network and Chair of the Michigan EIBC Board. “From creating the grid of the future to innovations in the transportation sector, advanced energy businesses are driving change, and our industry is well-positioned and ready to play an increasingly important role.”


Michigan EIBC Elects Board of Directors

The Annual Members Meeting also featured elections to the Michigan EIBC Board of Directors. The following individuals were reappointed:

  • Lauren Bigelow, CEO, Growth Capital Network
  • Anand Gangadharan, President and CEO, NOVI Energy
  • Bruce Goodman, Counsel, Varnum LLP
  • Rachel Tronstein, President, Gardner-White Furniture
  • Rich VanderVeen, President, Mackinaw Power
  • Scott Viciana, Vice President – Business Development, Ventower Industries

In addition, the following individuals were added to the Michigan EIBC Board:

  • Mathias Bell, Manager – Market Development and Regulatory Affairs, Opower
  • Mark Hagerty, President and Founder, Michigan Solar Solutions
  • Kevin Hyken, President and COO, Navitas Advanced Systems Group
  • Tim Mahler, Vice President – Operations, CLEAResult
  • Kevin Parzyck, Vice President, Development – Central Region, Invenergy

These new and re-appointed members join a group of other industry leaders currently serving on the Michigan EIBC Board, including:

  • Amy Butler, Executive Director, OU Inc.
  • Gregory Ioanidis, Vice President – Business Unit Finance and Rates, ITC Holdings Corp.
  • Andy Levin, Founder and Managing Partner, Levin Energy Partners
  • Nate Lowery, CEO, LexTM3
  • Jeff Mathie, President and CEO, Patriot Solar Group
  • Jim Monterusso, General Manager, Veolia Energy
  • Brian Pageau, President, Midwest Energy Group
  • Ann Marie Sastry, CEO and President, Sakti3
  • David Simon, Director, Toggled

Congratulations to all new and re-appointed Board members, and thanks to all Board members for your leadership and service to our industry!


New Michigan EIBC Members

Michigan Solar Solutions

MSS was established in 2008. We design, sell and install solar electric systems for homes, businesses, commercial buildings and municipalities. We are proud to use domestically made products.

Quality Solar
Quality Solar is a solar installation company focusing on residential, agricultural, and light commercial arrays.


Michigan Energy News

The Michigan Schools Energy Cooperative, the Michigan League of Conservation Votes and the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum remain opposed to SB 437 and 438, despite significant changes to the legislation, Gongwer News reports.

The revisions to SB 437 and 438 would still harm Michigan ratepayers, according to testimony heard in committee. Midwest Energy News has the story.

Charles Griffith, climate and energy director for the Ecology Center, penned an opinion article in the Detroit News condemning Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan.

Gerry Anderston, president and CEO of DTE energy, wrote an opinion article in the Detroit News supporting SB 437 and 438.

Sam Gomberg, energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote a blog entry about potential damages to the advanced energy industry and electric rates were SB 437 and 438 passed as written.

Allison Hubbard, president of the Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce, wrote an op-ed on behalf of the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance (which includes Michigan EIBC member Traverse Connect), in the Petoskey News, sharing their thoughts on SB 437 and 438.

72 percent of Michigan voters support the Clean Power Plan, Midwest Energy News reports.


National Energy News

Republican states are leading in renewable energy, showing a shift in the political discussion, Fortune reports.

3M announces its first power-purchase agreement with Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy, for a 120 MW windfarm in Texas, RMI Outlet reports.

Elon Musk’s SolarCity will produce electricity, Tesla Energy will store it and now SolarCity Utilities Services will deliver it to people at night: electrek has the story.

Michigan EIBC member Opower has been acquired by tech giant Oracle for $532 million, net of Opower’s cash. The transaction creates what’s being termed “the most modern, complete cloud applications for the entire utility value chain, from meter to grid to end-customers.”

Hawaii lawmakers are working to reconcile competing proposals for energy storage incentives, Utility Dive reports.

Greentech Media interviewed California Pubic Utilities Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval about how their state will reach a 50 percent renewable portfolio.

As the US just reached its one millionth solar installment, low-income communities are being seen as the new area for growth in deployment, Greentech Media reports.

The US Department of Energy is requesting proposals for a new institute to drive energy efficiency in manufacturing.

ACORE released a whitepaper on utilities entering the electric vehicle sector.


Michigan Events
The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is hosting the Michigan Energy Fair on June 24-25 at the Ingham County Fairgrounds in Mason. This year’s Fair also boasts the Great Lakes Emergency Preparedness Expo and the Sustainable Living Summit 2016.

The 2016 Michigan Energy Providers Conference will take place on July 27-29 at Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa in Thompsonville. Michigan EIBC is a Gold sponsor for this event.

National Events
AWEA’s annual WINDPOWER event will take place May 23-26 in New Orleans.
Intersolar North America will take place July 12-14 in San Francisco.
Solar Power International is scheduled for September 12-15 in Las Vegas.
The Battery Show, collocated with the Critical Power Expo and Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, will be held in Novi from September 13-15.

Additional Resources
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is home to PowerSuite, a suite of tools that allows companies a one-stop on-line portal to search, track, and collaborate on state legislation and regulatory proceedings from around the country.
PowerSuite includes both BillBoard, the AEE dashboard for managing state legislation, and DocketDash, the AEE dashboard for managing state public utility commission proceedings. Subscription required. is a national solar permitting database that provides information on permitting for solar in jurisdictions across the country. The database includes a variety of information, from average permit turnaround times, to information required to be included in the permit, to contact information for individual jurisdictions. You can browse the requirements for the Michigan cities included in the database here.
The U.S. Department of Energy is offering A Guide to Federal Finance Facilities Available for Energy Efficiency Upgrades and Clean Energy Deployment. The downloadable guide provides information about the various federal financing programs available for energy efficiency and renewable energy — making it easier for state, local and tribal leaders, along with their partners in the private sector, to find capital for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The Department of Energy has offers free public access to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts or published scientific journal articles from projects funded by the DOE within 12 months of publication.