Michigan Energy Innovators Gala Recap, UP Clean Energy Conference

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:

Michigan Energy Innovators Gala Shows Industry Perseverance Through Crisis

 Thank you to everyone who participated in the 8th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on Nov. 12. While we hope next year’s gala can be in-person, we were able to virtually honor Barton Malow and Apex Clean Energy’s Isabella Wind project as Business of the Year and Project of the Year, respectively.  Their work shows how advanced energy continues to make progress in Michigan even with the events of 2020.

The gala kicked off with two timely presentations on topics that have shaped 2020 and will be just as relevant in 2021. High energy prices and insufficient investments into energy waste reduction have long punished disadvantaged communities the most, and the economic strains brought on by coronavirus have only made these issues worse, Dr. Tony Reames, assistant professor at the University of Michigan and director of the university’s Urban Energy Justice Lab, said in his opening remarks to the gala. Reames, a board member of the Institute for Energy Innovation, talked about his work toward developing a national energy equity baseline that would provide standards for the data that needs to be collected to address energy injustice. With a new administration expected to enter the White House next year, “we must ensure that equity and justice are front and center in the implementation and funding of all programs,” Reames said. 

 Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel described in her keynote address how energy has been front and center for her office’s work. She has filed suits against the Trump administration for rollbacks of efficiency standards, intervened in utility rate cases to win savings for customers and supported Michigan EIBC in briefs filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) calling for a value of distributed solar study that will lead to fairer compensation for distributed generation users. Next year, Nessel plans to “aggressively tackle low-income and environmental justice issues” and also intervene in more energy waste reduction cases before the MPSC to advocate for greater use of efficiency by utilities. 

 As voted by Michigan EIBC members, Project of the Year went to the Isabella Wind project, which is set to be completed by Apex Clean Energy by the end of this calendar year in Isabella and Midland counties. At 385 MW, the wind project is “the largest in the state and we are proud of it,” Apex Clean Energy Development Manager Albert Jongewaard said while accepting the award and showing pictures from the project’s blade signing ceremony.

 Barton Malow, who recently celebrated the feat of installing 1 gigawatt of renewable energy and combined heat and power projects in Michigan since 2007, won Business of the Year. This year the company was able to construct renewable energy projects in both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, CEO Ryan Maibach said. “We are very thankful we have had the opportunity to build throughout this year, but most importantly, build safely,” he said. 

Conference Sees Untapped Value in Upper Peninsula

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is one part of the state with mostly unrealized potential for renewable energy and efficiency growth. The Nov. 9 Upper Peninsula Clean Energy Conference explored how to unlock the potential in the region and what benefits could follow.

Bryan Newland, the tribal chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community, one of the hosts of the event, kicked the discussion off by talking about the economic benefits that advanced energy could bring to the peninsula. For example, as the rest of the country begins to drive EVs more and more, the UP will need to work in its EV charging infrastructure in order to grow as a hub for tourism, Newland said. Building out EV infrastructure “is one of the first places where we are going to start” to capitalize on clean energy opportunities, he said.

Energy efficiency is “a huge untapped resource you have in the UP,” 5 Lakes Energy Senior Consultant David Gard said in his presentation. He showed a map of the UP that illustrated how in most of the region 20% to nearly 50% of housing was built prior to 1950, and in some cases well over 50%.

Instead of viewing the task of improving the efficiency of these buildings as daunting, Gard suggested the UP should be seen as an opportunity. “It should be, ‘look at how much value we can get,’ and not ‘look at how much work we have to do.’”

The conference was hosted by Michigan EIBC member Michigan Energy Options, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University, Superior Watershed Partnership, the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Bay Mills Indian Community, Michigan State University Extension, and U.P. regional planning agencies. 

New Member

Montcalm Community College
MCC’s main campus is located on 220 beautiful acres in Sidney, Michigan. The College’s Greenville campus serves as the college’s center for skilled trades and advanced manufacturing. MCC offers 52 associate degrees, certificates, and job-training programs in careers such as skilled trades and advanced manufacturing, agriculture, business, health careers, computer information systems, welding.  

Michigan Energy News

  • Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline has until May 2021 to shut down, under order from Gov. Whitmer.
  • The Midcontinent Independent System Operator is not considering the kind of transmission expansions needed to alleviate grid congestion and enable more wind, solar, battery storage and hybrid solar-storage projects in states like Michigan, according to Sustainable FERC Project Director John Moore.
  • The time for a low-carbon economic recovery for Michigan is now, former Governor Jennifer Granholm writes.
  • Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are among two of six Midwest utilities that in their third quarter earnings collectively report plans to install 4 GW of solar generation, over 3.6 GW of wind generation and over 1 GW of battery storage.
  • Ford announces new investments into the production of its forthcoming E-Transit van.

National Energy News

  • The clean energy industry added under 24,000 jobs in October, the fourth straight month of employment growth at less than 1%, according to the latest analysis of clean energy jobs by E2, E4TheFuture and the American Council on Renewable Energy.
  • A new ratepayer coalition is opposing the extension of subsidies to keep open nuclear plants in New Jersey.
  • The first energy-related actions by a new Biden administration may include immediate executive orders reversing Trump administration rollbacks of air and water regulations.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory data show the surging demand for voluntary green purchasing programs.

Michigan Energy Events

Voices for Carbon Neutrality, a coalition of University of Michigan faculty, alumni and students, is holding two webinars in November about aspects of university President Mark Schlissel’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality report. The second, on Nov. 19, is Towards a Just and Equitable Carbon Neutrality Plan and will feature Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist.

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business is holding its inaugural Ross Energy WeekNov. 16-20, including a Renewable Energy Case Competition and Energy Conference.   

National Energy Events

Due to the number of events that have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, we are sharing some online 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.”

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.
 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 webinarscovering many different facets of energy storage. 


Indiana Michigan Power Company has issued two Request For Proposals (RFPs) to obtain up to 450 MW of solar or wind energy resources. Proposals are due Jan. 15, 2021.

The Green Task Force is requesting that non-profit and faith-based organizations fill out a brief survey to assess readiness for solar projects.

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.

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 2030districts.org/Detroit to find out more information including how a building can apply.