New Distributed Generation Legislation, Grid Modernization, Ford EV Charging Network 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:

Powering Michigan Forward Legislation Seeks Fair Value for Distributed Generation

 This week, state representatives and senators introduced the Powering Michigan Forward legislative package. This legislation, which Michigan EIBC helped craft, will correct the ongoing issues with the distributed generation program and ensure that residents and businesses continue to have access to on-site renewable energy. The bills remove the cap on the number of participants who can have rooftop solar and move toward a system that gives distributed generation users fair compensation, as detailed below.

The legislation is “a powerful step to get the state moving back in a direction toward a 21st-century grid that fairly accommodates two-way flows of electricity,” Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman wrote in an opinion piece published by Crain’s Detroit Business. Dr. Sherman was also quoted in a news article by Crain’s that reported the announcement of Powering Michigan Forward.

Here is the breakdown of the bills that make up the package:

House Bill 5145/Senate Bill 597 eliminates the 1% cap on the amount of distributed generation in a utility service territory. It also expands the eligibility criteria for customers to interconnect their distributed energy systems and makes it harder for utilities to restrict the number of customers who can enroll.

House Bill 5144/Senate Bill 598 rolls back the distributed generation tariff, which led to DTE’s tariff that uses an inflow/outflow model to determine compensation for rooftop solar customers. This model has made it extremely difficult for solar installers and their customers to determine the payback period for a rooftop solar system.

House Bill 5143/Senate Bill 596 requires the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to establish a tariff that fairly values distributed solar based on the full costs and benefits to the grid. The bill requires that the tariff compensates distributed generation users for the net amount of energy they use in a month, instead of on an instantaneous basis.  


MI Power Grid Places Michigan in the Spotlight for Grid Modernization Efforts

 Last week’s announcement of the MPSC and Gov. Whitmer’s MI Power Grid initiative has gotten national attention as a major step by a state to move toward grid modernization. Utility Dive reported on the initiative’s goals of pushing utilities toward new pilot programs, increasing demand response and boosting transparency of distributed system information, and cited Michigan EIBC’s joint statement with Advanced Energy Economy saying that the initiative could lead to “improved reliability and resilience, lower costs and more choices for consumers, and a broader range of solutions for utilities to address system needs.”

The Associated Press also quoted Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman about the initiative and how it can boost competition and reliability while reducing costs, in articles that ran in The Sault News from Sault Ste. Marie and The Grand Haven Tribune.

Michigan EIBC supports the ambitions of MI Power Grid because it aligns with many of the policy positions we have supported for years. For example, one of the major planks of the initiative is developing best practices for holding competitive procurements to source new generation investments. Michigan EIBC recently called for a greater focus on competitive bids from third parties as part of DTE’s integrated resource plan.

In another example, MI Power Grid explicitly calls for non-wires alternatives to be given proper consideration in deciding the kind of distribution grid investments utilities will make. Earlier this year, Michigan EIBC analyzed the benefits of non-wires alternatives.

Michigan EIBC is excited to continue working with the MPSC and other stakeholders on these issues and many others through the MI Power Grid initiative.  

Ford and Greenlots Collaborate on Charging Network 

 Earlier this month, Ford announced the details of its EV charging strategy, including collaboration with Michigan EIBC member Greenlots on the FordPass Charging Network of over 12,000 charging points. 

Specifically, Greenlots is working to make the network compatible with many different charging providers. The goal is to make EVs less intimidating and more user-friendly by giving EV owners the confidence that they can charge almost anywhere. “The driver can now pull up and not have to think,” Greenlots CTO Harmeet Singh said in an interview with Greentech Media.

Ford does not yet have a fully electric vehicle on the market. Ford said it provides free access to the FordPass Charging Network for two years after a customer buys a vehicle. 

The 7th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on Thursday, November 14 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing, featuring Governor Gretchen Whitmer as the keynote speaker, will celebrate individuals and businesses who have worked to grow Michigan’s advanced energy sector in 2019. That includes recognizing winners in the categories of:

  • Business of the Year
  • Emerging Business of the Year
  • Project of the Year
  • Public Official of the Year
  • Energy Innovators Hall of Fame

**Please note that all general admission tickets have been sold for this event. Event sponsors, legislators, and special guests of Michigan EIBC are still able to register. To put your name on a waiting list, please email Nicole Forward at We anticipate that some seats will open up as the event gets closer. Thank you.



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New Members

D2 Solar LLC
D2 Solar’s formation was motivated by a desire to improve social and environmental conditions through solar energy, and to help Michigan realize its solar potential. D2 operates a warehouse in Detroit that sells solar modules, and we also offer consulting to organizations who want to go solar.


Geosyntec Consultants
Geosyntec provides high quality Energy Transition and associated services to existing and new clients across private and public sectors. Our goal is to help clients reduce risk, cost and liability while identifying opportunities to enhance profitability and success of the organization. We are uniquely positioned to understand our clients’ risks and opportunities from the operation’s perspective and corporate risk.
Geosyntec’s mission is to be a leader and builder of a team and practice to provide strategic and tactical solutions for businesses addressing Energy Transition and decarbonization challenges. We provide cutting-edge policy advice towards sustainable and renewable energy systems. It includes a life-cycle approach – from the field to the corporate level to stakeholders. We also work with policy makers to work to modify the regulations to keep up with the transition. With our experience working within government and industry, we are able to foster unique and innovative solutions to drive the transformation.
We will work with our clients to understand and effectively navigate the changing landscape, bringing an understanding of energy-unique concerns. We will help our clients understand the evolving energy landscape and we work with them to achieve business results in this landscape. 


Michigan Energy News

  • Consumers Energy is collaborating with Sunverge, maker of a distributed energy resource control and aggregation platform, to use the technology for the utility’s residential battery storage pilot.
  • The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks Michigan 13th in energy efficiency among the states.
  • Students for Clean Energy at the University of Michigan are partnering with Ann Arbor officials on a project to install solar panels at a fire station.
  • Gongwer covers written testimony presented to the House Energy Committee by Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman. Dr. Sherman explained how a proposed bill would stifle the EV charging industry. The committee ultimately did not act on the bill.
  • The Powering Michigan Forward legislation will not affect large solar projects that are attempting to acquire rural land rights, the Lansing State Journal reports.
  • The Middleville pizzeria that was hit with a surprise nearly-$20,000 monthly electric bill has struck a deal with Great Lakes Energy and will not shut down.

National Energy News

  • The generation interconnection queue of the grid operator the Midcontinent Independent System Operator shows 1.7 GW of renewable energy capacity slated to come online by the end of 2019.
  • Vermont utility Green Mountain Power wants to make its pilot home battery storage program into a permanent offering for customers.
  • ProPublica examines the dizzying array of surcharges that utilities commonly add to customer bills.
  • Some Indiana farmers see more money in hosting solar panels on portions of their land than in growing crops.
  • The nonprofit public agency that operates the community choice program in Alameda County, Calif., has contracted solar and battery storage projects at costs the agency describes as “astoundingly low.”

Michigan Energy Events

Michigan Interfaith Power & Light’s 2019 Sustainability Conference features several environmental topics. It is being held Nov. 8 at Marygrove College in Detroit. Registration is open now.

Michigan EIBC’s Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will be held Nov. 14 in East Lansing, featuring keynote speaker Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Tickets are sold out, but some seats may open up. Please email Nicole Forward at to get your name put on the waiting list.

On Dec. 3, Michigan EIBC will hold its next Energy 101 session at the Michigan House Office Building. The topic is Big Data and Smart Buildings, and registration is coming soon. Note that this meeting is for Michigan EIBC members, state legislators and legislative staff only.   

National Energy Events

Greentech Media’s Power & Renewables Summit is in Austin, Tex., on Oct. 29 to 30. Topics include clean energy mandates, post-subsidy scenarios, East Coast offshore wind, distributed energy resource participation in wholesale markets and more. Go here to register.

Energy Storage North America’s 2019 Conference & Expo is in San Diego from Nov. 5 to 7.

The U.S. Commercial Service has organized the Clean Energy and Zero Emission Vehicle Technologies Trade Mission to Mexico from Nov. 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 The U.S. Commercial Service is also offering free consultancies for Michigan EIBC members interested in these business sectors in Mexico.

EUCI’s The Electric Vehicle-Utility Industry Nexus: Charging Forward conference is in Denver, Colo., on Dec. 2 to 3 and counts as a continuing education course. Sign up here.Infocast’s Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit is in San Diego from Feb. 4 to Feb. 6, 2020.


 On Oct. 22, Rapid River Schools issued an RFP for performance contracting for a school district-wide energy conservation program, including lighting and HVAC control and upgrade measures. Proposals are due Nov. 4.

Bentley Community Schools in Genesee County is requesting proposals for an energy service company to design, manage and implement a comprehensive turn-key energy saving capital improvements program. Bidding closes Oct. 21, 2019.

Orion Township in Oakland County has issued an RFP for a design build project to provide a 15.5-kW solar power system by Dec. 31, 2019. Potential bidders can view this RFP here.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service is seeking applications for its Rural Energy for America Program, which makes loan guarantees and grants available for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, energy audits and more. The deadlines to apply for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants are Oct. 31, 2019, and March 31, 2020, while applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round. Find out more here.

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.