Michigan Businesses Unite to Accelerate Advanced Energy Procurement

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LANSING— A group of leading companies headquartered in Michigan including General Motors (GM), Crystal Mountain, the Dow Chemical Company and Steelcase has established the Corporate Purchasers Roundtable to facilitate the expanded use of advanced energy resources among businesses and large energy users.

“Renewable energy and other advanced energy technologies are increasingly competitive, providing opportunities for Steelcase and other companies to meet corporate financial and sustainability objectives,” said John DeAngelis, Energy Program Manager at Steelcase. “The Corporate Purchasers Roundtable will help accelerate those opportunities to procure these low-cost resources in Michigan.”

The Corporate Purchasers Roundtable – spearheaded by the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (EIBC) – is focused specifically on identifying pathways that increase corporate advanced energy procurement in Michigan.

“The Corporate Purchasers Roundtable gives us a platform to drive market growth through utility engagement and policy and regulatory changes to unlock the benefits of advanced energy in Michigan,” said Rob Threlkeld, Global Manager for Renewable Energy at General Motors. “GM is interested in adding more advanced energy to its energy mix because it makes good business sense.”

According to a new Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) report by Meister Consultants Group, Inc. entitled Opportunities to Increase Corporate Access to Advanced Energy: A National Brief, Michigan ranks seventh for highest potential demand for corporate renewable energy nationally with an estimated potential of 12,300 megawatts (MW).  It concluded that much of that renewable energy potential lay within Michigan’s strong manufacturing sector, which continues to drive commercial and industrial energy consumption in the state.

“Adding more energy resources that have zero fuel costs aligns well with our long-term strategic business interests,” said Jim MacInnes, CEO of Crystal Mountain resort in Thompsonville, Michigan.

“Cost-efficient and clean renewable energy is readily available and needs to represent a much larger part of the utility generation mix,” MacInnes added. “It benefits all customer classes and should not have to result in higher electricity costs.”

Corporate buyers of advanced energy, in concert with utilities, their regulators, non-governmental organizations, and renewable energy solution suppliers came together in February at the Third Annual Michigan Energy Conference in Detroit to discusspathways that would facilitate greater access to renewable energy.

During the conference, businesses such as GM, Dow Corning, Whirlpool Corporation, Herman Miller, and Switch said increased opportunities for advanced energy procurement not only provide a hedge against potential energy price volatility but also drive future decisions about site selection and corporate expansion.

In its first action, the Corporate Purchasers Roundtable recently filed comments with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) over a pending DTE Energy request that would amend the company’s renewable energy plan by adding a voluntary renewable energy pilot program.

Although the Roundtable supports DTE’s efforts to encourage voluntary purchases of renewable energy that exceed Michigan’s renewable energy requirement of 10 percent, Roundtable members expressed concern about a provision in the DTE request that would set an arbitrarily high price for renewable energy, which in turn would drive down demand for advanced energy resources.

Instead, the Corporate Purchasers Roundtable urged DTE to offer opportunities to procure advanced energy resources at terms comparable to those already available in the competitive market.

“As home to some of the world’s largest companies seeking to power their operations with advanced energy, Michigan can be a leader in turning corporate energy procurement goals into reality,” said Liesl Eichler Clark, President of Michigan EIBC. “Through the Corporate Purchasers Roundtable, we are creating opportunities for these companies and others to access advanced energy in Michigan, and in the process, improve the competitiveness of Michigan’s business climate.”