- Newsletter (337)
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:
DOE Senior Advisor Dr. Tony Reames to Keynote Michigan Energy Innovators Conference in April
We are thrilled to announce that the keynote speaker for the 10th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Conference will be former Institute for Energy Innovation Board Member, Dr. Tony Reames, who was recently appointed as Senior Advisor to the Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity!
Dr. Reames is a leading expert on energy justice and has done extensive research into how low-income and marginalized communities pay more for more energy-efficient products through his role as assistant professor at the University of Michigan and director of the university’s Urban Energy Justice Lab. He is currently on a one-year leave of absence from the university to serve at DOE, where he is “responsible for energy justice policy and analysis to ensure energy investments and benefits reach frontline communities and Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.”
Tickets are now on sale for the Michigan Energy Innovators Conference on April 26 at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. Typically our most popular event of the year, the Michigan Energy Innovators Conference provides attendees an opportunity to network, learn about innovations in advanced energy, and get an overview on the latest policy developments. This event includes: main-stage panels, several break-out panels with dozens of expert panelists, TED-style talks, and networking.
Attendees of our Conference are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the start of the event. The CDC defines fully vaccinated as two weeks after receiving a second shot of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We will ask for proof of vaccine or negative test at registration. Additionally, as recommended by CDC guidance, Michigan EIBC strongly encourages that all attendees wear masks while indoors.
Source: Ed Uthman, License.
FERC Hears Case Against Utilities Charging Ratepayers for Political Activities
Back in January, this newsletter summarized a federal inquiry into whether utilities are properly accounting for the dues they pay to trade associations and other potentially politically-sensitive activities, especially when they classify those dues and activities as expenditures that can be charged to ratepayers.
Now, dozens of state attorneys general, public interest groups, corporations and other parties have chimed in with comments in response to this inquiry from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The comments express concerns that more light needs to be shed on these utility activities, which can be extremely influential on energy policy in states including Michigan.
Joint comments from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan use DTE as an example to lay out the problem. DTE pays dues to a variety of trade associations, such as regional Chambers of Commerce, that they classify under the FERC accounting standard of non-operating activities. These expenses are not recoverable from customers through rates. But for what DTE calls “utility industry associations,” such as the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the utility classifies millions of dollars in dues each year in its rate cases as operating activities, which are presumed to be recoverable.
This distinction drawn by DTE is “one without a difference,” the comments argue, because these “utility industry associations” are just as politically active as these other associations. EEI, for example, has lobbied for less stringent federal air quality regulations. The comments call for FERC to place the burden on the utility to prove that dues or a portion of dues are directly connected to core utility services before they are able to try to recover those costs from ratepayers.
Many other comments echoed that recommendation. “The overarching question posed by” FERC’s inquiry “is not whether utilities are playing fair as a matter of fact, but whether it is the utility or the ratepayer who should bear the initial burden of proving whether the utility is playing fair. Ratepayers typically lack the resources, access to information, or both that are necessary to challenge the categorization of a cost,” the office of the Virginia attorney general said in their comments.
To view these comments and more, search FERC’s eLibrary for docket RM22-5-00.
Still Time to Register For Our Virtual Energy Storage Convening on March 14
Join us for our public and virtual Energy Storage Convening on March 14 that will present the culmination of a year of work into the soon-to-be-released roadmap for the future of energy storage in Michigan.
In 2020 the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) put out an RFP that sought “to create an energy storage roadmap to determine energy storage potential in Michigan and develop recommendations to inform investment and policies regarding energy storage.” Such a plan was necessary to ensure Michigan is able to access the grid performance and reliability benefits of energy storage in the future.
The Institute for Energy Innovation along with partners Michigan EIBC, 5 Lakes Energy and Michigan State University won that bid and have been working on the roadmap, focusing on a variety of storage technologies, such as batteries, thermal storage, compressed air storage, pumped storage and more.
The convening will feature small group discussion and discussion with experts, providing an excellent opportunity for both networking and strategizing to advance policies to support energy storage deployment in Michigan. Register for the convening here.
Our mission is to make the power grid more renewable, reliable, and cost effective
Our technology offers a fast, accurate, scalable, and secure thermal energy storage through smart water heating controls.
Our products offer easy installation and economic options for beneficial electrification and grid control.
EDP Renewables North America LLC (EDPR NA), its affiliates, and its subsidiaries develop, construct, own, and operate wind farms and solar parks throughout North America. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, with 58 wind farms, nine solar parks, and seven regional offices across North America, EDPR NA has developed more than 8,800 megawatts (MW) and operates more than 8,200 MW of onshore utility-scale renewable energy projects. With more than 950 employees, EDPR NA’s highly qualified team has a proven capacity to execute projects across the continent.
Jupiter Power is a utility-scale energy storage company that uses novel applications of cutting-edge energy storage technologies to better serve today’s electricity business. Jupiter is backed by leading energy investors EnCap Investments L.P., Yorktown Partners and Mercuria Energy and has offices in Austin, Texas and Chicago, Illinois. The company is currently developing more than 10GW of storage projects for construction over 2022-2026 in the most promising United States markets, with a particular focus on Texas, the eastern seaboard, California and the midcontinent.
Michigan Biomass is a coalition that advocates for the state’s grid-connected, wood-fired power plants – facilities constructed between 1985 and 1994. It was formed in 2007 to ensure that the biomass power industry would continue to contribute to the state’s energy, resource and economic wellbeing under renewable energy policy. About 20% of the state’s renewable energy comes from forest-based, sustainable resources, mostly byproducts from wood products manufacturing. Because these power plants predate Michigan‘s RPS they are affected differently by the growing renewable energy marketplace. The intrinsic values of biomass power – jobs and rural economies, low-value wood fiber markets, forest health and stewardship, mitigation of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, and support of the state’s electricity transmission system – warrant energy policy that preserves the production capacity and non-energy values these facilities provide.
National Grid Renewables
National Grid Renewables, which includes the renewables development company formerly known as Geronimo Energy, is a leading North American renewable energy company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with satellite offices located throughout multiple states in the regions where it develops, constructs, and operates. As a farmer-friendly and community focused company, National Grid Renewables develops projects for corporations and utilities that seek to repower America’s electricity grid by reigniting local economies and reinvesting in a sustainable future. National Grid Renewables is part of the competitive, unregulated Ventures division of National Grid and has a robust portfolio of solar, wind, and energy storage projects located throughout the United States in various stages of development, construction and operation.
SkySpecs automates the operations and maintenance of wind energy assets through robotics, a predictive analytics and blade management software platform – Horizon- and industry expertise to enable better decision making and a higher degree of transparency into operational planning over the lifetime of a fleet. Using SkySpecs’ suite of solutions, unplanned downtime is minimized and total production potential increases, making renewable energy more accessible to the world. SkySpecs has offices in Ann Arbor, MI and Amsterdam, Netherland, and currently operates in 19 countries on 5 continents.
Michigan Energy News
- “It’s time for Joe Bellino to take the side of his constituents rather than the monopolistic utility companies that pour money into his till) and allow more Michiganders to take advantage of clean, rooftop solar by passing House Bill 4236,” Monroe resident Lee Markham writes in a letter to the Monroe News.
- Michigan State Climatologist Jeffrey Andresen said that worsening rainstorms is the biggest climate-change risk for the state and urges overhauling infrastructure to better absorb floodwaters.
- EV registrations in Michigan rose about 60% over the past year.
- In his State of the Union address, President Biden mentioned Ford and GM’s decisions to invest $11 billion and $7 billion, respectively, in EV production facilities.
- Ann Arbor’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 20% in the first year of the pandemic.
- Ford is separating its legacy auto and EV and software operations into separate business units.
National Energy News
- The European Union is scrambling to plan greater energy efficiency efforts and the use of heat pumps to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels from Russia.
- The U.S. needs to do more to extract rare earth minerals from coal ash, Jennifer Wilcox, principal deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, writes.
- The U.S. Department of Energy releases a strategy to improve the clean energy supply chain, including mineral extraction.
- Ohio EV truck startup Lordstown Motors, now under new management, projects that it will sell its first 500 trucks this year.
- The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), of which most of Michigan is a part, and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) release a “first-of-its-kind” study that identifies $1.8 billion in transmission projects that could be built crossing the borders of the two regions to remove bottlenecks currently blocking many proposed renewable energy projects.
- An Ohio judge who helped write the controversial H.B. 6 law at the heart of the FirstEnergy corruption scandal is presiding over regulatory cases involving investigations into the corruption.
Attention Michigan EIBC members: if you have a job announcement you would like in the newsletter, please send a paragraph describing the position and a link to apply to Matt Bandyk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.
“We are looking for an experienced and talented Outreach Professional to lead the technical sales outreach effort to promote and increase participation in our energy efficiency utilities programs midstream (instant discount) and downstream residential and commercial. As an outreach professional for energy efficiency programs with Energy Sciences, you will join our team of degreed energy efficiency professionals helping utility customers take advantage of incentives to reduce energy use in residential and commercial buildings and industrial processes and plants.”
Lean & Green Michigan
Lean & Green Michigan is seeking a motivated and self-directed individual to join the team, communicating through a variety of media about all aspects of the Lean & Green Michigan PACE program. The successful candidate should have excellent writing and communication skills, experience with social media, enthusiasm for working in the business community, environmental policy, renewable energy and energy efficiency, attention to detail, and strong desire to deploy energy and water efficiency and renewable energy in Michigan.
Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association
The Membership Director will strengthen MEECA’s capacity by supporting the organization’s membership base. The Membership Director will develop and manage a program to regularly engage with member companies to serve their needs. This person will also streamline the annual renewal process, contribute to MEECA’s website and social media presence, and perform other duties assigned by the Executive Director. This is a part-time, remote position for a Michigan resident.
Ranger Power is seeking an Assistant Development Manager to join its development team in its Chicago office. As part of a small and dynamic development team, assistant development managers are expected to manage varying responsibilities as projects progress through the development process. As a developer at Ranger Power, you will drive all aspects of project development and strategy, including site prospecting and land acquisition, site analysis, landowner relations, permitting, interconnection, business development, and community engagement and outreach.
Michigan and National Energy Events
Join us on March 14 for a virtual public energy storage convening. The team from the Institute for Energy Innovation, 5 Lakes Energy, and Michigan State University will present an Energy Storage Roadmap for Michigan and an industry panel will discuss next steps to support energy storage deployment in Michigan. Register here.
To meet customer demand for the voluntary green pricing program (MIGreenPower), DTE is issuing an RFP for new wind and solar projects, both with and without energy storage. The projects must be ready to achieve commercial operation in 2023, be located in Michigan, and be interconnected to MISO or distribution level transmission. Anyone who is interested should register their company information on the Power Advocate website at this link for solar projects and/or this link for wind projects. DTE will be accepting proposals through April 29.EGLE Energy Services is offering $250,000 in grants to small manufacturers in Michigan to implement energy efficiency activities that can be completed by Aug. 31, 2022, with a maximum grant for $25,000 per manufacturer. Application deadline is April 30.
American Electric Power (AEP) is issuing an RFP that “seeks up to 800 MW of Wind resources, 500 MW of Solar resources, and other qualified capacity resources from thermal, standalone storage, emerging technologies, and other capacity resources.” AEP subsidiary Indiana Michigan Power identified the need for supply-side generation in its RFP.
Consumers Energy has released draft materials for its RFP that will solicit solar and wind generation projects in accordance with the company’s expansion of its Voluntary Green Pricing Program. This RFP will be administered by Enel X, affiliated with Michigan EIBC member Enel Green Power. According to the RFP administrator, “questions pertaining to this RFP or the proposal submittal process can be sent via email to Enel X by way of VGPRFP@enel.com. In the event others within your organization did not receive this notice and are interested in being added to the RFP listserv, please send a request via email to VGPRFP@enel.com with contact details for those to be added.” Final proposals are due May 31. The Community Collaboration on Climate Change (C4) is seeking a full-time contract position to provide coordination of C4 leadership, organizational representatives, Grand Rapids residents, and the program deliverables.
State of Michigan DNR is going big in solar with projects in the ground, others in development and additional ones being planned. DNR has released a Request for Proposal for Prequalification Program for Renewable Energy PPAs: www.michigan.gov/sigmavss. Use “Guest Access” to get the RFP. A previous round of pre-qualifications netted solar companies that then were able to bid on a portfolio of DNR solar projects in Southwest Michigan. Another portfolio in the Northern Region is in the works for later this year. Only companies who pre-qualify can bid on future DNR solar projects. Please direct all correspondence to the Solicitation Manager, Laura Gyorkos at gyorkosL@michigan.gov.
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.