Newsletter: Advanced Energy Businesses Lobby Lansing for Stronger Energy Legislation

This newsletter was originally published on December 2, 2015.

Advanced Energy Businesses Lobby Lansing for Stronger Energy Legislation

After two weeks of the Michigan Legislature being out of session to observe the beginning of hunting season and the Thanksgiving Holiday, the Michigan House reconvened on Tuesday.  Last month, before the Legislature adjourned, the House Energy Policy Committee moved legislation (HB 4297 and 4298) that would change the energy choice market, the Renewable Portfolio Standard and the Energy Optimization Standard.

As originally introduced, the legislation would have returned Michigan to a fully regulated electricity market, eliminated the Energy Optimization (EO) standard that requires utilities to achieve 1% annual energy efficiency savings (0.75%/ year for natural gas utilities), allowed the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to expire, and moved consideration of future utility investments to a new integrated resource planning process.
As part of the deliberations yesterday, however, the Committee considered and adopted a number of amendments, including the following:

  • Energy Efficiency: The Committee adopted an amendment that would maintain the EO standard for natural gas utilities, and extended the 1% EO standard for electric utilities through 2020, though it could be eliminated sooner in the case of an approved utility plan. The Committee also added incentives for utilities to go beyond the current EO standards, though left additional amendments regarding changes to current cost caps on efficiency measures to be considered on the House floor.
  • Renewable Energy: The RPS would still expire at the end of 2015. An amendment to HB 4397 would set a goal – but not a requirement – of getting 30% of Michigan’s energy from renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2025. There would also be no requirement that third party developers have the opportunity to develop a portion of any new renewable energy projects. (Under current law, independent developers are guaranteed at least 50% of the new renewable energy market, a requirement that has helped to drive down costs for renewables in Michigan.) An amendment was also adopted that would exclude the burning of tires and petroleum coke from the definition of renewable energy.
  • Retail Open Access/ Energy Choice: The amended legislation would maintain the current hybrid market that allows up to 10% of customers to purchase their electricity from alternative energy suppliers (AESs), but with the requirement that in cases in which the Public Service Commission projects a capacity shortfall, AESs would be required to demonstrate adequate capacity to cover the loads they propose to serve.
  • Utility Planning: The legislation maintains its shift of energy planning decisions to an Integrated Resource Planning process overseen by the Public Service Commission, which would evaluate utility proposals and allow rate recovery for new projects only if the utility could demonstrate their proposal was “the most reasonable” option available. The Committee also adopted an amendment that would expand the Michigan Public Service Commission to five members, including one member to represent the interests of residential ratepayers.
  • Other Measures: The Committee also adopted an amendment to expand the availability of on-bill financing for energy upgrades. Changes to the current Net Energy Metering framework, which have been a source of much discussion and controversy on the Senate side, were not addressed in the House legislation.

Members of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council were there on Tuesday to welcome House members back, and compel them to improve the package to incorporate a stronger renewable standard and ensure that the additional amendments to energy efficiency measures are adopted when the legislation comes to the House floor.

The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council was representated by APEX Clean Energy, Chart House Energy, CLEAResult, EDF Renewables, Four Elements Energy, Inc., Michigan Biomass, Opower, Solar Winds Power Systems, Ventower Industries and Varnum. They had constructive meetings from members from both sides of the aisle. They were fortunate to meet with Representatives Chris Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Township), Brian Banks (D-Detroit), Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Ben Glardon (R-Owosso), Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo), Brandt Iden (R-Oshtemo), Larry Inman (R-Traverse City), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Andrea LaFontaine (R-Columbus Township), Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes), Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), Earl Poleski (R-Jackson), Bruce Rendon (R-Lake City), Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville) and Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park). Member businesses also had a chance to meet with Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills), Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) and House Energy Policy Committee Minority Vice-Chair Bill LaVoy (D-Monroe).

The package was improved in large part because of bi-partisan cooperation, so it was great to meet with key leaders heading into final negotiations as it approaches the floor. We will keep you all posted as the legislation moves to the floor.


Google, Whirlpool, Siemens and other Non-Energy Businesses in Michigan Voice Support of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

The same week the state legislature returned to Lansing, businesses in Michigan from every size announced their support for renewable energy and energy efficiency in Michigan.

Different groups of companies sent letters to the Michigan Legislature and to Governor Snyder, stating their desire to have more of Michigan’s energy come from renewables and energy efficiency. National corporations doing business in Michigan like Google, Siemens and Whirlpool signed onto a letter. The Michigan Agri-Business Association signed onto one as well.  

You can read their letters, as well as those from energy businesses, right here.


Michigan Energy News

Mlive reports that even if the House votes out their package, then Senate is not expected to take action this year.

Business Wire has a story about Michigan EIBC member Walker-Miller Energy Services’ recent partnership with Franklin Energy Services, LLC to manage energy-related businesses and services nationwide for a large Midwest energy company.

MLive has a story enforcing the belief that an energy overhaul package will pass at least the House the year.

Michigan Radio also has a story on the renewed focus around energy issues this month.

Electablog has a story on Pic My Energy Mix, an online survey that shows Michigan’s support for an energy portfolio with more renewables and more energy efficiency measures.


National Energy News

The Paris Climate Talks are happening this week, with more and more focus shifting towards the economic importance of advanced energy, Forbes reports.

Utility Dive has a piece on a Navigant study on the growth microgrids, along with the difficulty in tracking this growth

Greentech Media has a story about the new community solar storage program from German company, Sonnenbaterie. The system combines photovoltaic panels, batteries and a digitally control software platform as a way of allowing households to buy and sell electricity within a community.

Utility Dive has a feature on the five drivers towards a 100 percent energy future: utility-scale generation, distribute solar, energy storage, net-zero buildings and an improved grid.

Canadian municipal utility Oshawa Power and Utilities corp. has unveiled their solar storage pilot project to shift generation to peak hours.

Jennifer James and Mike Bossom had an opinion article about the importance of smart cities and how utilities should play a larger role in crafting them.

Utility Dive has a piece on NRG’s partnership with UC San Diego to test electric vehicle-to-grid integration.

E&E has a piece on the recent announcement from Bill Gates about the largest clean energy fund for research and development to date.

Utility Dive has a story on Amazon purchasing a 100 MW wind farm in Ohio, as a part of their goal of a 100 percent renewable portfolio.

Michigan Energy Events
Save the Date: Michigan EIBC is partnering with a number of other organizations for a Corporate Pathways to Renewable Energy conference on Monday, January 25, 2016 in Detroit. Additional details and speakers will be released soon


Additional 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. is a national solar permitting database that provides information on permitting for solar in jurisdictions across the country. The database includes a variety of information, from average permit turnaround times, to information required to be included in the permit, to contact information for individual jurisdictions. You can browse the requirements for the Michigan cities included in the database here.
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 has 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.