New Storage Opportunities; DG Cap Increased for Upper Peninsula Utility; EV Pilot Program Launched

Energy Storage: New Markets, New Opportunities

Energy storage is often referred to as the “holy grail” of clean energy innovation because of its ability to solve the issue of intermittency of wind and solar energy. But, so far, most of the country, including Michigan and the Midwest in general, have lacked a clear path to accurately value  energy storage in wholesale and other types of energy markets like generation resources including fossil-fueled power plants, wind farms, and solar arrays.

That is starting to change, however, and Michigan EIBC wants its members to be ahead of the curve. On June 10, Michigan EIBC is holding an Energy Storage Lunch Networking Event in Grand Rapids. The event will feature Bill Peters, market design advisor for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which oversees the grid across much of the middle of the country, including Michigan. The event will also feature Consumers Energy Project Manager Amy Hoeksema, who will discuss the utility’s Circuit West battery storage and solar project in Grand Rapids, the first project of its kind in Michigan.

In 2018 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered that MISO and the other regional transmission organizations and independent system operators develop rules for energy storage to participate in wholesale energy, capacity and ancillary markets. That means a multitude of potential revenue streams may be available for energy storage project developers, including the ability to monetize energy stored from renewable or other resources or the guarantee that a battery will be able to discharge at peak times. Currently, MISO rules only allow energy storage to bid into markets for a small list of services, such as regulating the frequency of the grid.

MISO’s plan still needs to be approved by FERC, and Peters will be discussing the implications for the clean energy industry. RSVP for the event here.   

UPPCO Rate Case Includes Distributed Generation Cap Increase

On May 23, the Michigan Public Service Commission issued an Order that increased the cap on Upper Peninsula Power Co.’s (UPPCO) net metering/distributed generation program from 1% to 2% of its average peak demand.

The decision is an example of the growing demand by Michigan residents for rooftop solar and distributed generation in general. There had been pent-up demand for solar by UPPCO customers, as seen when so many customers applied with their distributed solar arrays that the previous 1% cap was maxed out in 2016 for “Category 1” installations (under 20 kW).

The Michigan PSC’s cap increase is spread among different installation sizes: 1% for Category 1, 0.5% for Category 2 (between 20 kW and up to 150 kW) and 0.5% for Category 3 (methane digesters between 150 kW and up to 550 kW).

As other utilities throughout Michigan approach their respective caps on distributed generation, Michigan EIBC continues to work with state legislators to increase or eliminate the caps statewide.

New Electric Vehicle Pilot Program Gets Rolling

On May 29, Consumers Energy officially announced the launch of PowerMIDrive, the utility’s 3-year electric vehicle (EV) pilot program. Approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) earlier this year, PowerMIDrive offers rebates for EV chargers at residential homes, public places and workplaces, and highways and travel routes.

Michigan EIBC had submitted formal recommendations to the MPSC that PowerMIDrive be approved. The program “will result in numerous societal and ratepayer benefits, as well as serve as an important component for electrical grid integration of electric vehicle charging,” Michigan EIBC’s comments said.

DTE Energy recently received approval for its own EV pilot program, called Charging Forward.

Michigan EIBC has been at the center of efforts in Michigan to move EV policy forward. In 2018, when the utility pilot programs were still in the development stage, the programs were discussed at Michigan EIBC’s EV convenings. These meetings have brought together stakeholders from utilities, the governor’s office, the legislature, industry, non-profit organizations, local governments, and a variety of other groups to formulate ideas on how to tackle rate design, public-private partnerships, local zoning and a host of other issues as they pertain to EVs. The 7th and most recent convening focused on state administrative actions to support EVs and featured Kara Cook, policy advisor on energy/environment for the Office of Gov. Whitmer.

Michigan EIBC views vehicle electrification as an area of great promise for the Michigan clean energy industry, in part due to the state’s existing investments in the automotive industry and the growing number of clean energy jobs in the advanced transportation sector.

New Members

Greenlots, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shell New Energies, is a leading provider of open standards-based technology solutions for electric vehicle (EV) networks and grid management. Based in Los Angeles, Greenlots has deployed charging networks for some of the world’s largest automakers, utilities, fleet owners and cities. Combining an award-winning software platform with a suite of services to support EV infrastructure deployment, Greenlots has scaled its flexible, smart charging solutions in various applications including utility programs, fleet charging and public DC fast charging. Greenlots is excited to help support and accelerate the growth of electric vehicles in Michigan.

Plunkett Cooney
Established in 1913, PlunkettCooneyis one of the Midwest’s oldest and most accomplished law firms with offices throughout Michigan and in Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm employs approximately 150 attorneys who provide counsel and advice to clients in numerous industries, including those in the energy sector. Our attorney have particular expertise in the areas of business law, commercial litigation, environmental and energy regulation, governmental affairs, real estate and much more. Visit the firm’s website to learn more or to explore our substantive legal blogs.

Renewing Members

EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions, Inc.
EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions partners with its customers to optimize renewable energy resources and related energy services. We originate, develop, build, and operate customer-focused energy projects that incorporate solar generation, energy storage, electric vehicle charging, energy storage management, or any combination of these energy offerings.

The Green Panel, Inc.
Incorporated on June 12, 2007 The Green Panel, Inc. is a Michigan-based turnkey solar PV company that Engineers, Furnishes, and Installs (EF&I) solar photovoltaic systems. Our goal is to build long-lasting relationships with our customers, exceeding their expectations. The Green Panel often finds itself as an educator through the engineering, furnishing, and installing process because of our 12+ year history in the renewable energy market. We have serviced residential, commercial, industrial and educational entities throughout the State of Michigan, with offices in Brighton/Grand Rapids and a warehouse in Brighton. Our installers are all W-2 employees and we have our own fleet of trucks/trailers.

Ventower Industries
Ventower Industries is a leading North American steel fabricator currently specializing in wind turbine towers, marine foundation solutions, pressure vessels, welded storage tanks and the application of various coating systems.  

Michigan Energy News

  • Gov. Whitmer has announced a new Michigan Mobility Challenge to help develop the “infrastructure of tomorrow” with a Request for Proposals for autonomous vehicle technology ideas. Winners will be able to present at the 2020 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
  • Delta Solar, the 86,000-solar panel installation that serves the Lansing Board of Water and Light, celebrated its first year of operation with tour that included state legislators.
  • Distributed solar is gaining a foothold in low and moderate-income communities in Detroit, even with a host of challenges that make installing solar difficult, according to an in-depth report that interviews Detroit residents.
  • Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says she will shut down the Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline if an agreement to build a tunnel to house the pipeline is not struck by the end of June.
  • The commissioners of the city of Sturgis in St. Joseph County approve a 25-year power purchase agreement with a solar project being developed by Prism Power Partners.
  • Detroit’s Wayne State University plans to offer a master’s degree in mobility, being developed in partnership with the Michigan Mobility Institute.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council has published a detailed primer on how utility rate-making works in Michigan.
  • The Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City passes another regulatory step in building a 10-MW solar panel array in partnership with Traverse City Light & Power.

National Energy News

  • Minnesota utility Xcel Energy is fast-tracking the retirement of its coal power plants by 2030, faster than Consumers Energy and DTE plan to shut down their coal plants, part of Xcel’s plan to be 65% reliant on non-emitting sources by 2024 and zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • In Ohio, craft breweries are one of the most reliable beneficiaries and supporters of solar panels and energy efficiency.
  • Atlanta wants to be 100% reliant on renewables by 2035, but it will have to deal with its monopoly utility, Georgia Power, which may not move to renewables fast enough to meet that goal.
  • The new Illinois Solar for All program, which provides renewable energy credits for residential and community solar projects in underserved communities like low-income households, rural homeowners and urban apartment renters, is now accepting applications.
  • Some states and military officials are clashing with wind developers over whether their wind farms will interfere with military flight paths.
  • The shift from coal to renewables in many states is causing a flurry of Wall Street interest in bonds backed by utility customer bills that deal with the financial burden of uneconomic coal plants.
  • new paper from Advanced Energy Economy estimates that if certain regulatory barriers to clean energy resources like efficiency, demand response and storage were removed, those resources could be worth $65 billion in present value.
  • The U.S. Green Building Council is going to help 15 cities with LEED certificationwith a $500,000 grant from Bank of America.
  • The city of Boulder, Colo., will be dissolving its municipal electric utility as part of a settlement with the state and Xcel Energy.
  • Dallas, Texas, has a contract with retail electricity provider TXU Energy to power all city facilities with wind and solar energy for ten years.

Michigan Energy Events  

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 National Coalition for Community Capital’s ComCap19 conference, held June 11 to June 13 in Detroit, will include a June 12 panel on how to create local green energy economies through crowdfunding, PACE financing and cooperatives. Speakers include Bali Kumar, CEO of Lean & Green Michigan, an EIBC member. More information here:

The IEEE Transportation Electrification Conference & Expo (ITEC) 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.

The Michigan Environmental Council is holding a Grand Rapids Clean Energy Forum on June 28 to talk about the current status of renewable energy in Michigan. RSVP here.

Michigan EIBC Members Only: Please join us in person on Friday, June 21 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm for an In-Person Policy Committee Meeting at Midwest Strategy Group in downtown Lansing. We will have a special guest presenter at this meeting. Reka Holley, Departmental Analyst of the Michigan Public Service Commission, will give a presentation on the most recent DTE Rate Case and answer questions from attendees.

The 63rd annual Michigan Energy Providers Conference will be held July 24 to 26 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The conference will include speakers such as FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee and CMS Energy and Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe.

National Energy Events    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, Michigan EIBC members should reach out to

The Roadmap Conference, the largest annual conference on electric and smart mobility, will be held June 18 to 19 in Portland, Ore. A full agenda is available here, and a discounted registration link is here.

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