Newsletter: 1.1 Million Lose Power in Storm; Would Cutting Smart Meters Make it Worse?

This newsletter was originally published on March 13, 2017.

1.1 Million Lose Power in Storm; Would Cutting Smart Meters Make it Worse?

High winds last week caused more than 1.1 million customers of DTE Energy and Consumers Energy to lose power, with some customers waiting through the weekend for electricity to be restored. Utility officials have said that this is the largest power outage in the state’s history, with crews traveling from outside Michigan to help restore power. Residential customers who were without power for 5 days or more are eligible for a $25 bill credit from their utility.  

The outage also added fuel to the ongoing debate over smart meters in the Michigan legislature, where the House Energy Policy Committee is considering legislation that would allow customers to opt-out of their smart meter at lower cost, though utility officials warn that such a move would increase costs on other ratepayers. Following the wind storms, DTE Electric President Trevor Lauer and MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg credited smart meters with helping to get power restored sooner, as well as developing a more accurate map of outages. The meters also enable customers to participate in new offerings, such as the Peak Power Savers demand response program Consumers Energy recently unveiled to help save customers avoid peak energy costs.


Michigan EIBC Goes to Washington

Michigan EIBC staff traveled to Washington D.C. last week to meet with members of Michigan’s congressional delegation and participate in meetings as part of Advanced Energy Economy’s Energy Forward event. In addition, Michigan EIBC Board Member Scott Viciana of Ventower Industries was invited by AEE to share his perspective in working with his local lawmaker, Michigan Senator Dale Zorn, to see an expansion of Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard included in the energy legislation signed by Governor Snyder in December. On Thursday, Viciana shared the importance of developing relationships with local elected officials with a group of approximately 100 industry executives.

The day before, Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark, Counsel Dan Scripps, and representatives of joint AEE-Michigan EIBC companies Apex Clean Energy, CLEAResult, FirstFuel, Oracle, and others, met with more than half of the Michigan congressional delegation, including meetings with Congressman Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet), Congressman John Moolenaar (R-Midland), and Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township), as well as staff with Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and Congressman Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Congressman David Trott (R-Birmingham), and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn).

Finally, Scripps represented Michigan EIBC as part of an @Microsoft panel discussion entitled “Powering Growth: Advanced Energy as an Economic Driver.” The event, which was held at Microsoft’s Washington offices, also featured Emily Fisher, Vice President at the Edison Electric Institute; Michelle Patron, Director of Sustainability Policy at Microsoft; Peter Rothstein, President of the Northeast Clean Energy Council; Tom Starrs, Vice President for Market Strategy and Policy with SunPower; Jim Steffes, Executive Vice President with Direct Energy; and Malcolm Wolff, Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs with AEE. Lisa Frantzis, AEE’s Senior Vice President – 21st Century Electricity System, moderated the panel.


Panel Topics Announced for Michigan EIBC 5th Annual Member Meeting

The Michigan EIBC’s 5th Annual Member Meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 26 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This annual event brings together leaders in Michigan’s advanced energy industry, utility executives, policymakers, regulators, and others.

Past speakers have included Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg, Michigan Agency for Energy Director Valerie Brader, Michigan Senate Energy Chair Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe, Invenergy CEO Michael Polsky, and former CLEAResult CEO Glenn Garland.

This year’s Annual Member Meeting will feature discussions on a range of advanced energy issues, from mobility and advanced transportation to grid modernization to what the new energy law means for your business. Specific discussion topics include:

Building the Market: Corporate Advanced Energy Procurement

Cities Driving the Energy Transformation – featuring Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers

The Cutting Edge: Building an Energy Innovation Ecosystem

Selling Projects Under the New RPS

From Energy Optimization to Energy Waste Reduction: The Role of CHP, Demand Response, and Load Management in the New Efficiency Landscape

Energy, Mobility, and the Future of Transportation

The Future of Electricity: Technology Transforming the Grid

What’s Ahead in this Legislative Session

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. The Annual Member Meeting attracts a broad range of industry leaders from renewable energy, energy efficiency, transportation, and the utility sector. Sponsors will have direct access to industry leaders during this day-long conference that offers unique insight and unmatched networking opportunities.


New/ Renewing Members




Advanced Battery Concepts

Advanced Battery Concepts is a battery technology development company focused on the advancement of large-format, energy storage solutions. We have developed a broad portfolio of patents and trade-secrets, termed GreenSeal® technology, that enables improved performance at lower production cost for traditional lead-acid batteries with extendibility into other advanced chemistries. The company currently has licensed it’s technology to two major lead-acid manufacturers with intentions of securing additional license in the near future.





Atwell is a consulting, engineering and construction services firm that delivers a broad range of strategic and creative solutions to clients in the real estate and land development, power and energy, oil and gas, industrial and manufacturing, and mining and metals markets. We provide comprehensive turnkey professional services including engineering, planning, surveying, landscape architecture, environmental consulting, natural resources services, program management and construction management to a diverse blend of clients in the real estate and land development, power and energy, oil and gas, industrial and manufacturing, and mining and metals markets around the world. Through our national platform, we also provide due diligence support, permitting and entitlement services, project and program implementation, and construction management. With 15 offices throughout the United States, Atwell passionately advocates for its clients with an unmatched drive for better, faster and safer project completions. Atwell’s success is rooted in their exceptional people, industry diversification, broad range of services and their entrepreneurial, customer focused spirit that drives a team oriented culture.



Dickinson Wright

Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 425 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. Headquartered in Detroit and founded in 1878, the firm has seventeen offices in Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, DC and Toronto. Dickinson Wright has been at the forefront of alternative energy and energy innovation in North America. We assist clients in developing energy and alternative energy projects; green building, leasing and design initiatives; and providing intellectual property services for next generation technologies. Our cross-disciplinary team comprised of attorneys from our energy, environmental, municipal finance, real estate, corporate, construction and intellectual property practice groups provides our clients with an unmatched depth and breadth of experience and insight to relevant issues. To learn more about Dickinson Wright’s Energy & Sustainability practice, please visit us at


Michigan Energy News

The Michigan House yesterday passed HB 4080, introduced by Represenatative Beth Griffin, which authorizes school districts to utilize lease-purchase agreements to finance energy improvements. The legislation, which mirrors similar legislation enacted last session for local units of government, passed by a vote of 106-2 and now heads to the State Senate. Michigan EIBC prioritized this legislation and support it in committee. We will continue to push for its enactment.

President Donald Trump is making his first visit to Michigan since taking office. Trump is scheduled to visit the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti tomorrow, where he’ll address plans to roll back fuel efficiency standards. While there, the President is also likely to be pushed on calls from Michigan’s congressional delegation to include $200 million for testing connected- and autonomous-vehicles.

Switch opened the first phase of its data center outside of Grand Rapids. The project, which could expand to 1.8 million square feet and requiring 320 MW of energy, is entirely powered with renewable energy.

DTE Energy is seeking bids to purchase a 1200 MW natural gas plant located in the Lower Peninsula as part of its strategy to replace the output of three coal-fired plants slated for closure by 2023. The company plans to evaluate the bids against its stated plans to construct a natural gas plant next to the existing Belle River coal plant in China Township.

The Michigan Public Service Commission, Michigan Agency for Energy, and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality kicked off discussions with stakeholders regarding IRP implantation last Friday.  More information is available at and at for those interested in participating in specific workgroups. 

Developers behind plans to redevelop the 103-year-old Keeler Building in downtown Grand Rapids are proposing to make it a “net zero” building by adding solar panels and a geothermal system, with energy savings passed on to the low-income tenants the developers are hoping to attract. The building won’t offer parking, instead taking advantage of its proximity to nine bus stops within one=-tenth of a mile.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents is scheduled to vote Thursday on an $80 million expansion to the university’s Central Power Plant that would house a new CHP system designed to reduce emissions by providing electricity and steam.

Work is underway on a solar array on the Michigan State University campus that will ultimately save the university $10 million over 25 years. The array will also provide covered parking, and are expected to meet approximately 5% of the university’s energy needs.

Albion-based Patriot Solar Group has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after a subcontractor allegedly failed to produce materials or obtain permits for a project. The company states in court filings it expects to emerge from Chapter 11 protection after restructuring.  

Midland County’s Ingersoll Township is weighing the benefits and costs of a planned wind farm in the area. DTE Energy is hosting a March 22 public forum to answer questions and address concerns about the project, which may also include turbines in neighboring Mount Haley Township.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is proposing to levy a $149,000 fine against Detroit Renewable Power, the company that operates the waste-to-energy facility in Detroit, for a series of emission and monitoring violations, an amount that some activists are deeming insufficient. DEQ plans to take public comment before signing off on the final terms of the penalty.

Nominations are now open for the 2017 Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, which recognize energy efficiency projects completed in 2016. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2017.


National Energy News

Advanced Energy Economy released its Advanced Energy Now 2017 Market Report, finding that advanced energy in the U.S. is a $200 billion industry employing 3.3 million Americans. This puts the industry on par with pharmaceutical manufacturing and double the economic output of beer sales. Globally, the industry topped $1.4 trillion. Apart from declines in the domestic ethanol sector, the U.S. advanced energy industry grew by 5% in 2016 – double the growth rate for the overall U.S. economy.

Solar saw impressive growth in 2016, fueled by a near doubling of solar deployment in the U.S. and China. All told, global installed capacity topped 76 GW – a more than 50% jump over the 50 GW installed in 2015.

Tesla has completed a solar-plus-storage project in Hawaii, providing power cheaper than Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s cost for diesel – and less than half of what ratepayers paid on their bills. Billed as “selling solar at night,” the project includes a 13 MW solar array and 52 MWh of storage capacity, and sells power at 13.9 cents/ kWh.

The proposed Environmental Protection Agency budget aims to cut the agency’s funding by 24% and eliminate 38 of its programs – including the Energy Star program.

The chairman of the California Public Utilities Commission is floating a plan to transition California to full electric choice, asking how the Commission “can get out of the way” in making this happen. Meanwhile, a legislative committee in Florida is considering altering its regulatory framework around performance-based regulation, among other changes.

The city of Moab, UT has committed to a 100% renewable energy power supply by 2032, with municipal operations to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2027.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with $5.1 trillion under management, is putting increased pressure on companies to identify the impact climate change will have on their businesses, as well as increasing the diversity of boards of directors.


Michigan Energy Events

The Institute of Public Utilities will host Grid School 2017 from March 27-30 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

The 2017 Michigan Battle of the Buildings Energy Summit is taking place Wednesday, April 19 at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids. The event includes a plenary address by Michigan Agency for Energy Director Valerie Brader, an awards presentation, panel discussions, and more.

Michigan EIBC’s 5th Annual Member Meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 26 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This annual event brings together leaders in Michigan’s advanced energy industry, utility executives, policymakers, regulators, and others. Past speakers have included Congressman Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg, Senate Energy Chair Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe, Invenergy CEO Michael Polsky, and former CLEAResult CEO Glenn Garland. This year’s Annual Member Meeting will feature discussions on grid modernization and infrastructure, corporate procurement of advanced energy, and how energy, IT, and transportation are converging to create the new mobility industry, among many others. Registration is open now, and sponsorship opportunities are also available.

The Michigan Geothermal Energy Association is hosting its 2017 annual meeting on April 26-27 at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant. Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer of DTE Electric, will speak at the dinner on April 26.

The 2017 Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition, hosted by DTE Energy and the Engineering Society of Detroit, will take place May 9 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. The conference is now accepting proposals for presentations on topics related to energy efficiency.

TRC is hosting a two-day conference on Developing Solar on Landfills and Brownfields on June 12-13 in Chicago. The events brings together landowners, who will learn about how to turn their brownfield liabilities into clean energy assets, while solar developers will learn how to choose and develop on brownfields.

National Energy Events

The 2017 ACEEE/ CEE National Symposium on Market Transformation will take place April 2-4 in Washington D.C. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Innovative Approaches from Emerging Technologies to Market Transformation.’

The Energy Storage Association’s 27th Annual Conference and Expo is taking place April 18-20 in Denver. This event brings together leaders in the global energy industry working at the nexus of policy, technology and markets for energy storage.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual Future of Energy Summit will take place April 24-25 in New York. This annual event brings together traditional players and advanced energy leaders to discuss the critical energy issues of today and the next decade.

The annual AWEA Windpower Conference is taking place May 22-25 in Anaheim, CA. The marquee event for the US wind industry returns with top-tier speakers, world-class education, cutting edge technology, and premium marketing.

Greentech Media’s Grid Edge World Forum 2017  will be held in San Jose, CA on June 27-29. As the only conference exclusively focused on emerging distributed energy system, this event highlights the trends, opportunities, and innovation happening at the grid edge.

Additional Resources 

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant cycle is now open, awarding grants for renewable energy projects in rural communities and agricultural areas. REAP is open to Agricultural Producers and Rural Small Businesses. Grants can be used for the purchase, installation, and construction of a Renewable Energy System or Energy Efficiency Improvement. Rural Small Business Projects must be located in a rural area with populations of 50,000 or less. The Agricultural Producer Projects can be located in rural or non-rural areas. REAP Grants provide a 25% cash reimbursement of the total system costs, with a maximum grant of $500,000 for Renewable Energy Systems and $250,000 for Energy Efficiency Improvements.
Applications for projects with Total Project Costs of $80,000 or less are now closed. Applications for projects with Total Project Costs greater than $80,000 are accepted through Monday, May 1, 2017.
The Application Templates and Forms are available at USDA Rural Development Offices or the National Website at: under Forms and Resources.
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is home to PowerSuite, a suite of tools that allows companies a one-stop on-line portal to search, track, and collaborate on state legislation and regulatory proceedings from around the country.
PowerSuite includes both BillBoard, the AEE dashboard for managing state legislation, and DocketDash, the AEE dashboard for managing state public utility commission proceedings. Subscription required.
The U.S. Department of Energy is offering A Guide to Federal Finance Facilities Available for Energy Efficiency Upgrades and Clean Energy Deployment. The downloadable guide provides information about the various federal financing programs available for energy efficiency and renewable energy — making it easier for state, local and tribal leaders, along with their partners in the private sector, to find capital for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The Department of Energy offers free public access to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts or published scientific journal articles from projects funded by the DOE within 12 months of publication.