Michigan EIBC’s Annual Member Meeting; Lobby Day; Solar Tax Bills in Senate

Annual Member Meeting Highlights Opportunities for Advanced Energy Industry 

This week, on April 23, Michigan EIBC hosted the 7th Annual Member Meeting, bringing together advanced energy industry leaders and experts to discuss the most exciting trends in advanced energy in Michigan and more broadly. Drawing a crowd of approximately 250 attendees, the conference featured 8 panels and 32 speakers from across Michigan and the country. 

“As major Michigan utility companies plan for the future and Michigan’s advanced energy sector continues to grow, there is a lot to be excited for in 2019 and beyond in Michigan,” said Laura Sherman, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council. “We are proud to be the leading trade association on the forefront of the rapidly expanding advanced energy sector and we are happy to facilitate collaboration among Michigan’s advanced energy businesses, from electric vehicle charging companies to renewable energy developers and more.”

The conference started with a members-only breakfast where members provided input on important EIBC governance items and learned about the variety of opportunities to engage with EIBC. The breakfast featured Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman Sally Talberg as a guest speaker. 

Following the breakfast, Michigan EIBC kicked off the broader Annual Member Meeting with a mainstage panel featuring EIBC president Laura Sherman, MPSC Commissioner Dan Scripps, and Director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Liesl Clark. Clark and Scripps, both former EIBC presidents, shared their thoughts on the advanced energy industry, the history of EIBC, workforce diversity, and what’s next. 

The heart of the conference featured two tracks of panels. In “Track A,” attendees heard from panels on the convergence of disruptive, distributed technologies, energy and transportation in the future of cities, and new demand and load growth opportunities for the advanced energy sector. In “Track B,” attendees heard from experts on the modernization of utility energy efficiency programs, regulatory constraints and opportunities, and innovations in financing for advanced energy systems. A full list of panels and speakers can be found here.

The event was highlighted by a keynote presentation from Vince Faherty from Google. He spoke about the evolving role and opportunity that smart assistants and voice technology have in engaging utility customers. 

The event concluded with a panel moderated by Institute for Energy Innovation Board Member and President and CEO of NextEnergy, Jim Saber. Panelists House Energy Chairman Joe Bellino, Representative Mallory McMorrow, Governor Whitmer’s Policy Advisor, Judd Herzer, and Trevor Pawl, Group Vice President for Mobility, Supply Chain, and Trade at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation discussed the intersection between transportation electrification and the future of mobility in Michigan.

While the day covered myriad topics, the overall theme was one of a thriving industry with ever-increasing opportunity for growth. The convergence of electric vehicles, energy storage, demand response technologies, and distributed generation are creating new opportunities for EIBC members. As cities and corporations begin to actively pursue advanced energy and as cannabis, data centers, and electric vehicles create new demand for electricity more broadly, advanced energy resources and technologies will be needed more than ever. Innovations in financing, policy, and technology are rapidly driving or enabling business opportunities in advanced energy. All of these trends highlighted at the Annual Member Meeting point to one universal takeaway: it’s a great time to be in the advanced energy industry in Michigan.
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A Packed Schedule for Michigan EIBC Lobby Day

On April 24, Michigan EIBC held its annual lobby day to bring the advanced energy industry voice to legislators from across Michigan. Each participating EIBC member met with at least 10 legislative offices, with a grand total of more than 35 legislative meetings held throughout the day. Meeting with members of the House and Senate leadership as well as key committee members, Michigan EIBC educated legislators on topics ranging from energy storage to utility-scale wind and solar to electric vehicles and everything in between. EIBC’s annual lobby day is open to all Michigan EIBC members.

Michigan EIBC Testifies on Solar Tax Bills

On April 24 — in the middle of Michigan EIBC’s lobby day — Michigan EIBC president Laura Sherman took a break from legislative meetings to testify before the Senate Finance Committee on SB 47 and SB 48. These bills, which Michigan EIBC has been supporting since 2017, would clarify the property tax status of small-scale solar installations. Michigan EIBC Board Member Mark Hagerty testified with Laura. Earlier in the day, Michigan EIBC members attended a vote on similar legislation in House Tax Policy. While the Senate bills were not up for a vote on Wednesday, the House versions — HB 4069 and HB 4465 — were voted out of committee and will now go before the House Ways and Means Committee.    

Michigan Energy News

  • As of April 22, the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) has merged into the new Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). MAE, which had been housed under the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, will no longer exist as its own agency. The Michigan Energy Office, which was part of MAE, and MAE’s External Affairs team both move over to the new EGLE department. The Michigan Energy Office’s current funding incentives, including sponsorships, rebates, grants and loans for energy related projects, will remain in place for the near future. Stakeholders will continue to work with the office’s staff, led by Director Robert Jackson.
  • Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Director Liesl Clark today announced that Regina Strong has been named as the department’s Environmental Justice Public Advocate.
  • A citizen-led effort to have voters in a mid-Michigan county determine solar zoning regulations doesn’t gather enough signatures.
  • Large solar projects under development will help a northern Michigan city meet its goal to power government operations with renewables by the end of next year.
  • The Casnovia Township board OK’d a special land use permit for the Kenowa Ridge Wind Energy Project in a 3-2 vote at a special meeting Tuesday.
  • Legislation exempting small-scale solar panels from being assessed for property tax purposes was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.
  • An informational meeting regarding rezoning for wind farms was held Tuesday night in L’Anse. The informational meeting presented every side of the divisive wind farm issue.
  • Traverse City commissioners will consider taking significant steps to meet a 2020 goal of powering 100 percent of city operations with renewable energy, including opting into a voluntary green pricing program, cutting energy usage, and partnering in a downstate solar expansion project.
  • The CEO of DTE Energy says the utility’s transition from coal to gas and renewables is “totally transforming the way we generate power.”
  • As states consider the compatibility of utility-scale solar projects on farmland, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is revisiting a state policy that the industry says has acted as a barrier.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s road-funding plan would hike electric vehicle registration fees to the highest level in the nation.
  • The Capital Area Transportation Authority’s(CATA) board of directors voted to use 100% renewable energy at its three Lansing are facilities. Those include the CATA Administration Building in South Lansing, the CATA Transportation Center in downtown Lansing, and the Capital Area Multimodal Gateway in East Lansing.
  • NextEra Energy Resources filed a lawsuit in Tuscola County Circuit Court to overturn Juniata Township’s decision to revoke special land use permits for the company’s Pegasus Wind Energy project.
  • Legislation allowing critical facilities like hospitals to operate their own microgrids to receive power during outages and emergencies was introduced in the House this week with bipartisan effort.
  • Michigan needs at least 193 charger outlets at 35 public stations along its major interstate highways to power the growing number of electric vehicles expected on its roadways over the next decade, according to a state-sponsored study.

National Energy News

Michigan Energy Events  

On Thursday, May 2nd from 8am-2pm, member company Lean & Green Michigan is hosting a PACE Summit at the IBEW Local 58 Zero Net Energy facility in Detroit. Register here.

Michigan EIBC will be hosting it’s 7th EV Convening in Lansing at the Michigan Municipal League on May 3rd. Register here.

Save the date: Institute for Energy Innovation Energy 101: Solar on May 22 in Lansing.

Save the date for the U.P. Energy Summit on Friday, June 14 at Northern Michigan University. Free to attend. Additional details will be made available on the U.P. Energy Summit website.

The IEEE Transportation Electrification Conference & Expo (ITEC) www.itec-conf.com will be held in Novi, MI. 19-21 June 2019. (ITEC’19) is aimed at helping the industry in the transition from conventional vehicles to advanced electrified vehicles.

National Energy Events    

Join solar, clean energy & utility experts at the 6th annual Midwest Solar ExpoMay 1-2, 2019 in Minneapolis, MN. Two action-packed days of all-star speakers, exhibition, networking, SolarWakeup Live! interviews, startup showcase, receptions & more. Register today!

Attend the Illumination Energy Summit in Columbus, Ohio May 15-16. Register here.DISCOUNT for Michigan EIBC members to Advanced Energy Now | East • June 13 • Richmond, VA: Join us at AEE’s new regional energy policy conference, Advanced Energy Now | East, to network with industry leaders and work on an action agenda for growing your business. Full agenda and speaker bios available – HERE. For registration code, EIBC members should reach out to mieibc@mieibc.org

Attend the Clean Cities Renewable Procurement Summit in Denver, Colorado July 23-25. Register here. Attend the Grid Evolution Summit hosted by SEPA on July 29 – August 1, 2019 | Washington, DC