Michigan Lagging on Reliability, Isabella Wind Farm Purchase Approved

Michigan Electricity Has Room for Improvement on Reliability, Report Finds

Michigan lags behind other Midwestern states and the rest of the country in terms of the reliability, affordability, and environmental impacts of its utility electricity service, according to a new report from the Citizens Utility Board of Michigan (CUB), a recently-formed ratepayer advocacy group.

The report’s deep dive into U.S. Energy Information Administration data reveals the importance of the state’s transition to advanced and clean energy as a way to address these shortcomings. Among utilities in the 50 states, Michigan utilities had the 4th-longest average time to restore electricity to a customer after an outage, the CUB study found. Michigan also has longer restoration times than in neighboring states Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Illinois. When one excludes “major event days” like storms and blizzards in an attempt to control for the varying weather across the country, Michigan ranks worst in the nation.

Distributed generation, storage and other advanced energy concepts can play a big role in improving reliability by acting as “non-wires alternatives” — avoiding costly upgrades to aging distribution system infrastructure. Michigan EIBC has been pointing regulators toward these innovative solutions (read more here).

Michigan EIBC has also been showcasing new opportunities for storage and microgrids, technologies that have great promise for improving grid reliability and resiliency.  

Regulators Approve Transfer of Apex Clean Energy’s Isabella Wind Projects to DTE 

Michigan EIBC member Apex Clean Energy plans to sell its planned Isabella I and II wind farms, two of the biggest renewable energy projects proposed for Michigan, to DTE Energy after receiving conditional approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) on July 18.

The projects, which will have a combined nameplate capacity of 375 MW, will begin construction later this year to be ready for commercial operation in the fourth quarter of 2020, upon which DTE will assume ownership and operation. Isabella I and II “will be the largest clean energy projects in the state as well as the largest renewable energy projects in DTE’s portfolio when they begin commercial operations in 2020,” Apex said in its announcement

The MPSC’s decision was a partial approval of DTE’s renewable energy plan, which was filed in March 2018. The MPSC also approved two pilot solar projects that will be paired with battery storage, microgrid technology, and/or electric vehicle charging totaling about 15 MW. However, the MPSC determined that DTE did not prove that its wind projects proposed for 2021 or later, which will not be eligible for the full federal tax credit, “can be cost-effective compared to alternative sources of renewable generation and ownership models.” Those additional renewable projects will be considered as part of the MPSC’s review of DTE’s integrated resource plan.

DTE said that the purchase of Isabella, along with the purchase of the 72-MW Fairbanks Wind project in Delta County from developer Heritage Sustainable Energy, will increase its renewable energy portfolio by nearly 50%.

Apex has another wind farm currently under development in Michigan, the 375-MW Coral Wind project in Montcalm County.  

New Member

Distributed Power
At Distributed Power, we believe access to solar should not be limited by an individual’s income. We put customers first by making the transition to green energy as easy as possible. In order to achieve this, we use financing companies to afford residents 0% down loans to start the installation process. We take on the financial burden upfront so the customer can take those first steps towards environmental sustainability.  

Renewing Members

Michigan Saves
Michigan Saves is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making energy improvements easy and affordable. We operate as a green bank to offer financing programs that help Michigan residents take control of their energy costs through efficiency and renewable projects. 

Newman Consulting Group
Newman Consulting Group (NCG), a Lean and Green Michigan and Rebuild Michigan® Partner, a DTE Energy and Michigan Saves Trade Ally, and an EPA Energy Star® Partner, works with architects, engineers, building owners and contractors in Michigan and throughout the world to design and build more energy-efficient buildings to LEED®, Energy Star® and other sustainable guidelines. NCG also helps commercial and industrial building owners save money and reduce negative impacts on the environment. Through energy audits and retrofitting existing buildings NCG helps buildings use less energy – and save money – while maintaining or improving the indoor air quality and enhancing the health, comfort and productivity of the building occupants. Services include: • LEED® Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) • Energy Audits – Level I, Level II and Level III • Energy Star® Certification • Re-Commissioning and Retro-Commissioning • Tax Deductions and Credits • Cost Recovery/Tax Benefits • Project Management • Design Assistance • Engineering Reports • PACE Project Management (Property Assessed Clean Energy)  

Michigan Energy News

  • A recent World Trade Organization panel decision that found that the clean energy standards of Michigan and six other states are “discriminatory” by favoring domestic goods will likely not have any impact on U.S. renewable energy projects because the Trump administration would need to take legal action against the states in response.
  • Mass power outages that began after a storm last Friday continued for several days, and many customers are expressing anger.
  • An over 150-year-old Episcopal church in western Michigan is installing a 20-kW solar array.
  • Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says that Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline will not shut down “until there is a reasonable and responsible plan to ensure access to energy.
  • DTE and Consumers Energy customers who were out of power for more than 16 hours after recent storms may be eligible for credits on their bills, the Attorney General says.
  • The MPSC’s changing makeup shows a greater focus on clean energy expertise.
  • Zillow data reveal that homes in Michigan that have been outfitted with solar panels sell for 4.1% on average more than homes without, according to a Grand Rapids Business Journal article that quotes Jayson Waller, CEO of Michigan EIBC member POWERHOME Solar & Roofing.
  • While the dispute with the state of Michigan continues, Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline is now being challenged by a Wisconsin tribe that claims the pipeline is endangering their land.

National Energy News

  • The CFO of Michigan EIBC member NextEra Energy says that the company expects “new near-firm wind and solar to be cheaper than the operating costs of coal, nuclear and less-efficient oil- and gas-fired generation units, even after the tax credits phase down early in the next decade.”
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs the controversial nuclear and coal plant subsidy bill that also cuts back on the state’s clean energy and efficiency standards, but a referendum campaign is attempting to block the legislation.
  • More coal plant retirements than previously expected means that renewables will make up a better share of new power capacity, according to an analysis of FERC data.
  • Energy efficiency is too often missing from the utility transformation process, Advanced Energy Economy Senior Fellow Martin Kushler writes.
  • New York City utility Consolidated Edison and its subsidiary Orange & Rockland Utilities issue a joint RFP for at least 310 MW of bulk storage in response to New York state’s ambitious energy storage goals.
  • New York state awards a total of 1,700 MW in offshore wind contracts, the largest offshore wind deal of any state.
  • A 230-MW solar project under development in Nebraska would be five times larger than all solar installations in the state combined.

Michigan Energy Events

Michigan Energy Options is holding a Summer Solar Webinar Series. On Sept. 19, Marta Tomic of Vote Solar will discuss community solar projects.

The Battery Show’s North America 2019 conference on Sept. 12 to 19 in Novi will feature exhibitors and speakers covering all stages of the advanced battery supply chain. Learn more here.

For those interested in all sustainability issues, tickets are now available for the Rise Up & Drawdown Michigan conference at DeVos Conference Center in Grand Rapids on Sept. 25. Also see the exhibitor opportunity listed below.

National Energy Events

Attend the Grid Evolution Summit hosted by SEPA on July 29 – August 1, 2019 | Washington, DC

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service is holding Discover Global Markets: Powering & Building the Middle East & Africa in Houston, Texas from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. This event is for companies who want to learn how to enter the renewable energy, electricity infrastructure, construction, engineering, transportation and oil & gas sectors in the Middle East & Africa. There is also the opportunity to pre-schedule meetings at the event with U.S. commercial diplomats. Learn more here.

Register here for Advanced Energy Now | West, Advanced Energy Economy’s regional energy policy conference, to be held Oct. 16 to 17 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The U.S. Commercial Service has also organized the Clean Energy and Zero Emission Vehicle Technologies Trade Mission to Mexico from November 18 to 23. This one-week trip for U.S. companies involves one-on-one meetings, conferences, roundtables, a networking reception and OEM and tier 1 plant visits with the automotive and clean energy industry in Mexico. Contact U.S. Commercial Service Mexico Energy Industry Specialist Claudia Salgado at claudia.salgado@trade.gov. The U.S. Commercial Service is also offering free consultancies for Michigan EIBC members interested in these business sectors in Mexico.


The Michigan Energy Office’s Small Manufacturers Energy Waste Reduction Incentive Pilot is offering rebates of up to $15,000 per company for small manufacturers that can implement energy efficiency activities between Oct. 1, 2019 and July 31, 2020. There is a 100% minimum match requirement. Click here to learn more about eligibility and apply.

Click here to learn more about reserving an exhibitor table at the Rise Up & Drawdown Michigan conference in Grand Rapids on Sept. 25