New Director of Research and Policy, Settlement Struck With DTE and More

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:

Welcome Grace Michienzi As Director of Research and Policy for IEI and Michigan EIBC!

Please help us give a warm welcome to Grace Michienzi, the new Director of Research and Policy for the Institute for Energy Innovation and Michigan EIBC. Grace will be working on a range of issues, including building decarbonization and building codes that promote efficiency.

Grace’s interest in advanced energy issues began when, as a student at Michigan State University, she volunteered for a weeklong project helping install solar panels on low-income housing in California. That experience, she says, not only showed her how renewable energy can make a positive impact in people’s lives, but also gave her a crash course in how the grid works.

Grace continued working toward environmental justice in her previous position as a policy advisor to Gov. Whitmer on issues like agriculture, Great Lakes, and human services. In this role as advisor, Grace helped develop best practices for farmers to reduce runoff into the Great Lakes. Before becoming an advisor, Grace joined the Executive Office as a policy intern and worked on health and human services issues.

Grace is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University, where she majored in Social Relations & Policy and received a minor in Science, Technology, & Environment Policy. During her time in college, she held internships in the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development, and MSU Extension.

A native of West Michigan, Grace now lives in Lansing. Welcome aboard, Grace!

New Settlement To Make DTE’s Renewable Procurement Process More Open and Transparent

 A settlement agreement between DTE and groups including Michigan EIBC, the Institute for Energy Innovation, and Advanced Energy Economy stands to improve DTE’s plans to procure new renewable projects to serve its customers who are voluntarily buying more renewable energy. Although the settlement does not go as far as many groups, including Michigan EIBC, would have liked, it does ensure that DTE’s plans will be more open to competition from third-party developers and include more opportunities for community solar.

DTE had asked the MPSC for approval of several different efforts related to renewable energy, including a “customer-requested project offering” in which DTE procures one-of-a-kind renewable projects for specific large customers to help them meet their sustainability goals. DTE also originally proposed to include behind-the-meter projects in this offering, but Michigan EIBC/IEI/AEE argued that this proposal was anti-competitive in a brief, because DTE’s monopoly status gives it unfair advantage over third-party developers in the behind-the-meter solar market, and the proposal was dropped in the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement also includes a competitive procurement process for solar projects less than 25 MW in size, which will allow more of those projects to be developed. 

The settlement sets requirements for a fair and open bidding process for the renewable projects that will be part of DTE’s voluntary green pricing plans, and commits DTE to “open, non-discriminatory treatment of resources,” including the consideration of different ownership structures for projects. DTE also agreed to conduct a low-income solar pilot in which three solar projects will be built in Detroit, Highland Park and River Rouge, governed by a Low-Income Solar Council that includes representatives from the community to ensure the projects are delivering benefits to local residents.

The settlement is now pending final approval from the MPSC. 

Advanced Energy World Has High Hopes For Federal Transmission Policy

Most experts agree that a major expansion of transmission line infrastructure in the U.S. is sorely needed in order to meet decarbonization goals. What is far less clear is exactly how to break the logjams that have made building new transmission so difficult.

That is why a lot of people in the advanced energy world have been excited about the Biden administration’s plans to include $100 billion for the power grid as part of a larger infrastructure package. The transmission component of the package would create a new investment tax credit intended to incentivize high-voltage lines that can connect population centers to rural areas that have great potential for renewable energy project development.

Some prominent clean energy groups have praised the tax credit proposal and say it could help solve the problem of the difficulty of financing large-scale transmission projects. “The transmission tax credit and other policies in the Biden infrastructure plan will enable a couple dozen large scale transmission projects to move forward in the near term,” Americans for a Clean Energy Grid Executive Director Rob Gramlich recently said in a statement to POLITICO. “The biggest barrier to large scale transmission, even more than siting and permitting, is that there is currently no functioning way to recover costs of the large scale interregional ‘highways’ that we need, through electricity rates or otherwise.”

But those siting and permitting hurdles remain, and policymakers will need to figure out how to overcome them in a short amount of time if new transmission is going to be online in time to help meet administration goals of grid decarbonization by 2035. “2035 is 14 years from now, so if we assume it takes 10 years to build stuff, that gives me a four-year window to get everything together,” Nina Plaushin, VP of regulatory and federal affairs at Michigan EIBC member company ITC Holdings, recently said.  

The U.S. Energy Storage Association Annual Conference & Expo (#ESACon21) will convene stakeholders throughout the energy storage ecosystem for a two-part event in 2021. On April 21-22, attendees will learn from industry insights, opportunities, and successes at Virtual #ESACon21 – free for all attendees. #ESACon21 will convene December 1-3, in Phoenix to bring together buyers, sellers, investors, and leaders in the energy storage industry for an event focused on driving deals and business in the energy storage industry. The Virtual #ESACon21 is a must attend for anyone looking to expand their business, invest in, or develop partnerships in the energy storage industry. Learn more here.

Renewing Members

AES Clean Energy

The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES) is a Fortune 500 global energy company accelerating the future of energy. Together with our many stakeholders, we’re improving lives by delivering the greener, smarter energy solutions the world needs. Our diverse workforce is committed to continuous innovation and operational excellence, while partnering with our customers on their strategic energy transitions and continuing to meet their energy needs today.

Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. 

Founded in 1988, and comprised of nearly 200 scientists, engineers, and support staff, ECT has been ranked by Engineering News-Record among the top 200 environmental engineering firms in the country for each of the past 23 years. ECT provides multidisciplinary environmental consulting and engineering design solutions to market-leading clients throughout the United States and across four continents. ECT’s natural resource professionals have a long history of project and program management on large-scale renewable energy projects. ECT has worked in more than 20 states assisting clients with the due diligence, siting and development of renewable projects. Our team understands these challenges and is equipped to address and guide our clients through the process.

Invenergy LLC

Invenergy is North America’s largest independent, privately held renewable energy provider. The Company develops, owns and operates large-scale renewable and other clean energy generation and storage facilities in North America, Latin America, Japan and Europe. Invenergy is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. In Michigan, Invenergy developed and constructed the 133-turbine Gratiot County Wind project and has several additional projects under advanced development.


Since 1985, SunPower has been leading global solar innovation. SunPower solar panels consistently deliver more energy and long-term peace of mind with the highest performing solar power systems available. SunPower is the solar energy choice of more homeowners and businesses around the world.


Sunrun is the largest dedicated residential solar provider in the country. We have over a decade of experience helping nearly 135,000 homeowners choose clean, sustainable energy for their homes. We pioneered the “solar-as­-a­-service” model 10 years ago and since then we have been delivering on a vision to create a planet run by the sun.
Sunrun’s history of blending innovation with expertise began in 2007 when Sunrun co-founders invented this model of service—making clean solar energy affordable, mainstream, and accessible for everyone in the U.S.  Sunrun makes going solar, and saving money on your electric bill, about as easy as it gets. Our innovation continues with Sunrun’s BrightBox, an innovative solar and battery storage solution for homeowners who want the peace of mind that comes with backup electricity and maximum control over their energy bills. This enables our customers to better manage the energy generated directly from their rooftops.
Sunrun employs more than 3,000 people throughout the United States. We’re looking forward to helping Midwest families go solar to bring down their energy costs and create a cleaner, more sustainable environment for generations to come.

Michigan Energy News

  • DTE is partnering with a carbon offset developer on a forest management project in the Upper Peninsula as part of DTE’s Natural Gas Balance program.
  • Bridge Michigan interviews a University of Michigan professor who is advising President Biden on environmental justice issues.
  • The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) schedules listening sessions to get input from the public on how Michigan can move toward carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • A former employee is alleged to have embezzled $1.5 from EGLE.
  • GM is expected to announce a joint venture with LG Energy to build an EV battery manufacturing facility in Tennessee, its second such facility after the battery factor under construction in Ohio.
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission fines the operator of hydroelectric dams that failed in a May 2020 flood $15 million for safety violations.

National Energy News

  • President Biden’s proposed budget includes the creation of a federal investment tax credit for standalone energy storage projects that is strongly supported by storage advocates.
  • Venture capital investors are gravitating to a number of startups trying to develop long-duration energy storage.
  • Facebook, which has contracts in place for over 6.1 GW of wind and solar across 18 states and five countries, says it has procured enough renewable energy to meet 100% of its global operations’ energy needs.
  • Rooftop solar is increasingly more accessible to lower-income households, according to new research.
  • Hydroelectricity in the Pacific Northwest may be key to producing enough green hydrogen to meet expected demand.
  • Apple says that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission should require publicly-traded companies to disclose information about their carbon emissions.

Michigan and National Energy Events

 The 25th Michigan Energy Providers Conference 2021 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island from July 29 to 30 will provide a unique perspective of the future of energy and related policy needs in Michigan, and offer an opportunity to build relationships with others in the industry. CDC guidelines will be followed and all proper protocols will be taken to ensure a safe event. Conference registration will open soon. The U.S. Energy Storage Association Annual Conference & Expo (#ESACon21) will convene December 1-3, in Phoenix. Register for free today!

Gov. Whitmer created the Council on Climate Solutions as an advisory body to help formulate and implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The council is holding a series of meetings throughout the year on various topics related to cutting Michigan’s CO2 emissions and recommending solutions for communities disproportionately affected by climate change. Go to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Office of Climate and Energy website to learn how to join these meetings.

The Upper Peninsula Clean Energy Virtual Conference Series continues with “Task Force Report & Legislative Policy Update” on April 16.

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 webinars covering many different facets of energy storage.    


PG&E has issued a Request for Offers for distribution deferral services and utility-owned energy storage at its Blackwell substation. A webinar about the RFO is scheduled for April 28More information is available here.

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is seeking applicants for the 1 Hotels Fellowship, due by May 15. E2 says: “the 1 Hotels Fellowship at E2 is designed to support early to mid-career businesspeople who seek to tackle pressing environmental issues through projects that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Six selected fellows will receive $20,000 each and work with E2 staff to implement their projects for the 2021-2022 program cycle.” Learn more here.
 Centrepolis is launching its new C3 Accelerator, funded in part by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, New Economy Initiative and the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator.  The accelerator will offer a total pool of $275,000 in funding including grants, equity-free interest-free investments, and services to support product development and scaling of cleantech, climatech, and circular economy technologies. A portion of these investments will be dedicated to support ventures led by women, people of color, veterans and other underrepresented entrepreneurs. Applications are due May 31, and can be submitted through this link.  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 to find out more information including how a building can apply.