2014 Year-End Newsletter

This newsletter was originally published on January 13, 2015.

Happy New Year! As we start the new year, we wanted to take a step back and highlight some of Michigan EIBC’s big activities in 2014.

Seven Networking Events Draw Large Crowds Across Michigan

Michigan EIBC convened seven networking events across Michigan in 2014 to promote business development and industry growth. These popular networking events drew record crowds. Marquette served as host city to the networking event on May 22 for companies in the U.P.

The August 22 event at NextEnergy in Detroit featured comments from Growth Capital Network CEO (and Michigan EIBC Board Member) Lauren Bigelow on efforts to encourage energy innovation in Michigan, an update on recent NextEnergy activities, a briefing on recent policy developments in Lansing and Washington, and opportunities for networking with other industry leaders.

Michigan EIBC hosted an event at Saginaw Valley State University in September to discuss economic developments in the Saginaw Bay area. Featured speakers were Don Schurr with Greater Gratiot Development, Inc., JoAnn Crary with Saginaw Future, and Craig Brown with Dow Solar.

Varnum Law Firm in Grand Rapids was host to four quarterly networking events. The first event in March included updates from Michigan Public Service Commissioner Greg White, chair of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ (NARUC) Washington Action program and Julie Baldwin, MPSC Staff lead on the Solar Workgroup. The June meeting focused on finance opportunities for Michigan companies. Community-based energy strategies were the focus for the September event. The December event focused on microgrids.

The first West Michigan networking event schedule for 2015 will be March 12 in Grand Rapids at Varnum Law Firm.


Michigan EIBC Welcomed New Board Members; Celebrates Annual Meeting

Michigan EIBC welcomed six new members to its board of directors during the April 30, 2014 Annual Meeting. Those new members were:

In addition to the election of new board members, the Annual Meeting also featured a morning keynote from Glenn Garland, President of CLEAResult, an afternoon keynote from Valerie Brader, Deputy Legal Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Snyder, and panel discussions on Advanced Energy and the Grid; New Markets and Opportunities in Energy Efficiency; Scaling Small Scale Generation in Michigan, and Developing Renewables in a Time of Uncertainty.

A special thank you to Annual Meeting event sponsors:

Gigawatt Level

Consumers Energy

Advanced Energy Economy

Megawatt Level

ITC Holdings

Kilowatt Level

OU Inc./ Oakland University School of Engineering and Computer Science

The 2015 Annual Member meeting is set for Monday, April 20, 2015 at the Radisson in downtown Lansing. The meeting will feature business-to-business networking opportunities, briefings on energy policy developments at the state and national levels, and advanced energy speakers and panels.


Michigan EIBC Co-Hosted Two Conferences

Michigan EIBC co-hosted the Michigan Energy Futures conference on September 9 at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Buffeted by stable or declining load growth, changing technologies, a need to maintain investor confidence, and the drive to envision a utility model that encompasses the changes to the electricity system, utilities are under tremendous stress. This year’s conference focused on strategies for meeting the challenges facing energy producers and regulators in providing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supplies and services during a period of unprecedented industry transformation.

Michigan EIBC also co-hosted the Solar Powering Michigan conference at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City on September 12. Solar Powering Michigan engaged utilities, policy makers, lenders, developers & contractors, local governments, and training & workforce development professionals to help them define opportunities in the solar market and access resources and networks to advance projects. The conference also featured keynote speeches from Matt Card of the solar manufacturing company Suniva and Kerry Duggan of the U.S. Department of Energy.


Michigan Power of Wind Coalition Touts Wind Benefits During Wind Lobby Day

The new Michigan Power of Wind Coalition, made up of Michigan EIBC and Wind on the Wires, highlighted the contributions of the wind industry to the Michigan economy during a Michigan Wind Industry Day at the Capitol in April. During the course of the day, wind industry leaders met with more than two-dozen Michigan legislators and staff, as well as hosting legislative leaders during a special evening reception.

With Michigan’s renewable energy standard, which has generated more than $2.3 billion in direct economic benefits to the state, on track to be maxed out this year, Michigan EIBC continues to make the case to expand the RES to provide certainty to industry participants.


Michigan’s Energy Efficiency Industry Goes to Lansing

Together with two other partners, Michigan EIBC hosted in September a group of energy efficiency business leaders for an Energy Efficiency Expo and Capitol Day. The event featured about two-dozen exhibitors highlighting the strength and diversity of Michigan’s energy efficiency industry in two corridors of the Capitol building, as well as a series of meetings between business representatives and legislative leaders. The day was capped off with a reception that allowed energy efficiency companies to get to know policymakers in a more informal setting.

Among the messages highlighted during the Energy Efficiency Expo and Lobby Day was the fact that Michigan’s energy optimization program is a success, saving ratepayers $2.5 billion and moving Michigan from 37th to 12th in national evaluations of the effectiveness of state policy. In addition, ratepayers save more than $4 for every $1 spent on the efficiency programs, and every $1 spent on rebates translates to $21 in project-related investment. And there is more cost effective work to be done: a recent study suggested that a few simple tweaks to Michigan efficiency law could spur $22 billion in economic activity over the next decade.


Michigan Senate Announces Energy Work Group; Michigan EIBC Gets Seat at the Table

Michigan Senator Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek, Chair of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee) convened a newly created Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workgroup throughout the summer and fall of 2014. Michigan EIBC had a formal spot at the table for this workgroup.


Michigan EIBC Finishes 2014 with a Pair of Legislative Victories

Though much of the policy focus in 2014 was on the process to revise the broad energy framework established by PA295 of 2008, Michigan EIBC remained active on other issues in the legislature, winning ultimate approval of a pair of bills during the post-election “Lame Duck” period.  HB5397, a bill that would provide new financial tools for municipal electric utilities to assist their customers in installing energy efficiency, distributed generation, and electric vehicle charging projects, passed the House in the spring, and won final approval by the Senate in December, before being signed into law by Governor Snyder on December 27. By allowing customers to borrow money for energy improvements from their local municipal utility and repay those loans as part of their electric bill, the legislation offers another tool to finance energy projects while reducing the cost of capital, increasing the economics of energy projects and making it easier for homeowners to improve the energy performance of their homes. Michigan EIBC worked with the bill sponsor, Representative Joe Haveman (R-Holland), and a number of other organizations supporting the legislation.

In addition, Michigan EIBC gave strong support to HB 5806, sponsored by Rep. Al Pscholka (R-St. Joseph), which will increase the ability of Michigan community colleges to use energy performance contracting to reduce energy consumption and costs. The legislation moved quickly through the legislature, passing the House in November before being approved by the Senate in December. The bill is still waiting on Governor Snyder’s signature.


Roundtable Connects Industry Leaders, Regulators over EPA’s Clean Power Plan

A group of Michigan advanced energy businesses sat down in September with the regulators charged with developing Michigan’s response to EPA’s Clean Power Plan to highlight how advanced energy technologies and business models can help the state meet its emissions targets while spurring economic growth and market development. The event, co-hosted with Advanced Energy Economy, brought together state and regional economic development organizations, regulators from the Michigan Public Service Commission and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and representatives of Michigan’s advanced energy industry. The draft Clean Power Plan offers a number of opportunities for Michigan, including the economic development of additional energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart grid deployment; the opportunity a strong rule provides to grow Michigan’s $7.2 billion advanced energy manufacturing sector; and opportunities to modernize Michigan’s grid, reducing outages and the costs and other impacts associated with them. Michigan EIBC, together with our not-for-profit partner the Institute for Energy Innovation, continues to work to inform policymakers, regulators and the public at large about the opportunities the draft Clean Power Plan represents for our state, and to encourage continued constructive engagement in developing Michigan’s compliance plan.


Michigan Energy Innovators Gala Honors Industry Leaders

The 2nd Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala, in November, brought together a full room of Michigan advanced energy industry leaders, policymakers and others to highlight and celebrate the achievements of Michigan’s growing advanced energy industry.

Business awards were given in three categories: business of the year; emerging company of the year; and employer of the year. The winners included:

  • Business of the Year: REL, Inc., a Calumet-based material and process developer that’s pioneering conformable fuel tanks for natural gas vehicles
  • Business of the Year: Sakti3, an Ann Arbor-based battery company that earlier this year announced test results that could double the energy intensity of lithium-ion batteries
  • Emerging Company of the Year: Energy Power Systems, LLC, an Oakland County-based battery start-up that is poised to deliver substantial increases and power and battery life without compromising the low cost profile of current battery chemistries
  • Employer of the Year: Suniva, the nation’s leading solar manufacturer, recently opened a 200 MW solar manufacturing facility in Saginaw Township

In addition to the business awards, the Gala also recognized the following individuals:

  • Public Official of the Year: State Senator Mike Nofs, Chair of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee and Chair of the Senate Energy Workgroup
  • Michigan Energy Innovators Hall of Fame: Bruce Goodman
  • Michigan Energy Innovators Hall of Fame: Stanley “Skip” Pruss

Bruce Goodman is Counsel at the Varnum Law Firm in Grand Rapids, where for thirty years he’s assisted clients in a range of complex energy issues, as well as helping to build the industry through the West Michigan Bio Energy Consortium, the West Michigan Wind Manufacturing Network, and the West Michigan Solar Supply Chain. He was named a “Thought Leader in Law” in 2010 for his work in energy, and is routinely included on the list of Best Lawyers in America.

Skip Pruss is a Co-founder and Principal with 5 Lakes Energy, a clean energy policy consulting firm, and previously served as Michigan’s first Chief Energy Officer and the Director of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. In those roles he served as the architect of Michigan’s clean energy economic diversification efforts, and helped attract billions of dollars in public and private investment into Michigan to support the state’s advanced energy industry.

Goodman and Pruss join previous Michigan Energy Innovators Hall of Fame Inductees Stanford Ovshinsky and Rich VanderVeen.

The evening also featured a keynote speech from Chris Brown, President of Vestas Americas. Brown oversees Vestas’s sales and service operations in the United States and Canada and is a member of the company’s executive committee as Group Senior Vice President for Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s largest provider of wind turbines.

A number of leading companies and other organizations generously supported the Gala, including Gold Sponsors Veolia Energy and Advanced Energy Economy; Silver Sponsors Consumers Energy, ITC, NextEra Energy Resources, the Michigan Energy Office, and the Varnum Law Firm; and additional sponsors 5 Lakes Energy, Advanced Energy Group, Energy Power Systems, Invenergy, NextEnergy, OU Inc, Patriot Solar Group, and Sakti3.


Upcoming Michigan Events 

The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum will be hosting the first annual MCEF Catalyst Conference at the Lansing Radisson featuring Governor Rick Snyder, General Ron Keys (USAF Ret.), and Brigadier General Michael Stone (MIARNG) on January 15 from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Admission is free but tickets are required. RSVP to info@micef.org by January 11, 2015 to reserve your ticket.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is hosting a Michigan Wind Energy Forum on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 in Lansing. Registration is now open.

Michigan State University’s Institute of Public Utilities is hosting its annual Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policy on January 30, 2015 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing.

PlugVolt will be hosting the 2015 Battery Seminar in Plymouth, February 10 – 11, 2015.

Save the Date! The Michigan EIBC Annual Member meeting will be April 20, 2015 in Lansing.


Upcoming National Energy Events

MEEA will be hosting their annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference to raise awareness and reinforce the importance of energy efficiency in the Midwest on January 28 – 30, 2015 in Chicago.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s arpa-e Energy Innovation Summit will be held February 9-11, 2015 in Washington D.C.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is sponsoring a Finance and Tax Seminar on February 26-27 in New York, NY.

The Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit 2015 is taking place April 13-15, 2015 in New York, NY. The theme for the 2015 Summit is “Opportunities in Transformation.”

The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER 2015 Conference and Exposition is being held May 18-21, 2015 in Orlando, FL. The early-bird registration deadline is February 24, 2015, with additional discounts for those who register by January 9. Michigan EIBC will be hosting a Michigan Pavilion at WINDPOWER 2015. If your company is interested in exhibition space as part of the Michigan Pavilion, please contact mieibc@mieibc.org.