Newsletter: Advanced Energy Businesses Make Their Case in Lansing

This newsletter was originally published on September 12, 2015.

Advanced Energy Businesses Make Their Case in Lansing

A group of renewable energy and energy efficiency companies were in Lansing to meet with key lawmakers and make the argument for supportive public policy to help the industry continue to deliver affordable energy solutions for Michigan ratepayers. Organized by Michigan EIBC, together with partners from Advanced Energy Economy and Wind on the Wires, the lobby day took place at a time that the Michigan Legislature is considering legislation to rewrite Michigan’s energy laws, including proposals to abolish the renewable energy standard, phase out the state’s energy optimization program, and eliminate net energy metering.

Companies participating in Wednesday’s lobby day included Michigan EIBC members CLEAResult and First Fuel, as well as Apex Clean Energy, EDF Renewable Energy, and others. Company representatives met with a number of lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive), Senator John Proos (R-St. Joseph, the sponsor of SB 438 that would gut the state’s advanced energy programs), Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall (R-White Lake), and Senators Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor), Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth), Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge), David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights), Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), and Dale Zorn (R-Ida), and Representative Ben Glarden (R-Owosso).

Following up on the lobby day, Michigan EIBC today launched a series of web advertisements opposing SB 438, connecting readers with information about the potential impact of the legislation and providing contact information for key Senators involved in the discussion.


Michigan EIBC Begins to Host Michigan Energy Forum

The Michigan Energy Forum met last Thursday, but with a new facilitator. Ann Arbor SPARK has historically run the monthly discussion on advanced energy issues, but due to capacity issues Michigan EIBC has taken on that role. We are very excited to be continuing this great program.

There was great turnout for this month’s meeting to discuss the future of solar power in Michigan. Panelists were Mark Fedra from McNaughton-McCay and Amy Heart from SunRun. Both talked about their experiences in the industry, the economic potential and how possible federal and state legislation might impact the industry. Senate legislation to eliminate net metering in favor of a utility-friendly distributed generation program was again a major topic of discussion.


SAVE THE DATE: Michigan Energy Innovators Gala Set for November 10, 2015

Michigan EIBC is pleased to announce that the third annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will take place on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. This event is the opportunity for Michigan’s advanced energy industry to pay tribute to and recognize those businesses, policymakers, and others who are doing the most to build the industry in Michigan.

Contact Nicole Forward for more information.



New/Renewing Members

TRC is considered a pioneer in groundbreaking scientific and engineering developments since the 1960s, TRC is a national engineering services, consulting and construction management firm that provides integrated services to the energy, environmental and infrastructure markets. TRC serves a broad range of clients in government and industry, implementing complex projects from initial concept to delivery and operation.

With Midwest offices in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin, TRC has worked with developers, utilities, and government agencies to provide efficient, cost-effective support on both large and small utility and distributed generation-scale solar and wind projects. TRC’s solar and wind expertise includes permitting support, site selection, impact assessment, engineering, design and handling interconnection issues.


FirstFuel Software provides a customer intelligence platform that transforms energy providers into trusted advisors to their business customers. FirstFuel’s SaaS solutions accelerate customer acquisition, optimize energy efficiency and DSM programs, and boost customer engagement and satisfaction. The company draws on deep domain expertise in data analytics, building science, and software in its deployments with large utilities, energy service providers, and government agencies in North America and Europe. Founded in 2010 and privately held, FirstFuel is headquartered in Lexington, MA. For more information, please and follow us on Twitter at @FirstFuelSW.


5 Lakes Energy
5 Lakes Energy is a Michigan-based policy consulting firm offering services in clean energy and the environment to the public and private sector. We provide the strategic pathways that enable and accelerate adoption of clean energy technologies and sustainable practices.


Michigan Energy News

Consumers Energy announced it had signed a power purchase agreement for energy generation from Geronimo Energy’s 100 MW Apple Blossom Wind Farm that’s planned for Huron County.

The Michigan House Energy Policy Committee took up amended versions of Chairman Aric Nesbitt’s energy legislation. The amendments to HB 4297 and 4298 contain a number of revisions to potential changes to the Retail Open Access market and flesh out details of an integrated resource planning process, as well as other changes. Interested in more details? Participate in Michigan EIBC’s members-only policy call this Friday. Contact Nicole Forward for details or to join Michigan EIBC.

Michigan Agency for Energy Director Valerie Brader testified before the Senate Energy and Technology Committee last week on the necessity for a state-based energy plan built on the Governor’s strategy to reduce energy waste.

The Senate Energy and Technology Committee is currently meeting to take testimony on SB 437, which would establish a new integrated resource planning process to govern utility decisionmaking.

VMax USA is planning a 30,000 solar manufacturing facility just outside of Ann Arbor, where it plans to manufacture solar panels and packages.

Dana Kirk, who manages MSU’s Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center, appeared on Greening of the Great Lakes to talk about market growth in Michigan for these type of digesters.

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof stated in a Gongwer News interview that the Senate energy legislation was something his caucus was going to work on through the fall.

Midwest Energy News has a piece on Barry Goldwater Jr.’s role as chairman of TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed), another instance where conservatives are taking a large role in the fight for rooftop solar.

Kris Spaulding, owner of Brewery Vivant wrote an opinion article in the Grand Rapids Business Journal about the importance of a Michigan energy plan that focuses on renewables and energy efficiency.

DTE Energy unveiled its new 1.1 MW solar project – the largest in Michigan – while announcing an even larger array was in the planning process.

The Detroit News editorial board endorsed the changes to net metering in SB 438.

David Mengabier, Consumers Energy’s Senior Vice President for Governmental and Public Affairs, wrote an OpEd highlighting the utility’s strategy for a “Michigan-first energy plan.” Among other items, he argued for “ending subsidies for special interests,” which he defines as including those Michigan families and businesses who have installed solar on their roofs. This is despite a number of recent reports that debunk these utility claims that those with solar are subsidized by other utility customers.

Crain’s has a piece on a dispute between the hydro-electric dam owners and the utilities over power-purchasing agreements. The piece also discusses biomass producers and the role of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), a federal law that helped create a market for power from non-utility power producers.

DTE’s Fermi 2 nuclear plant was shut down this week for evaluation and possible repairs.

The City of Saginaw has approved $1.8 million for LED streetlight upgrades.


National Energy News

The Christian Science Monitor has a piece on the future of battery technology and how it will reshape the industry.

Politico reports that the American Petroleum Institute and the American Natural Gas Alliance are talking about possibly merging.

Morning Consult has a piece on the possibility that the Portman-Shaheen energy efficiency legislation in the U.S. Senate might be a backup plan should the major energy legislation stall out.

SNL reports that a major share of U.S. coal mining is backed by companies fighting bankruptcy.

Brookings has a story on the importance of including metropolitan areas when working to comply with the Clean Power Plan.

Utility Dive has a story about the 900 percent growth of the energy storage industry in Q2 of 2015.


Upcoming Michigan Energy Events

The Annual UP Energy Summit will take place Wednesday, September 30 in Marquette. Michigan EIBC is hosting a post-Summit UP Networking Reception that day from 4:00-6:00 at the Landmark Inn in Marquette. (Note new date!) The reception, which will feature a policy update and a look at innovation and clean tech in the UP, is free for Michigan EIBC members and $25 for non-members.
The October Michigan Energy Forum meeting will take place Thursday, October 1 at Ann Arbor SPARK. The theme for the October meeting is Waste-to-Energy.

Michigan EIBC will be hosting their next Detroit Area Advanced Energy Business Networking Event, October 9 at NextEnergy. The theme will be The Future of the Grid. The event is free for Michigan EIBC members and $25 for non-members.
Michigan EIBC will be hosting their next West Michigan Advanced Energy Business Networking Event on Thursday, October 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event is free for Michigan EIBC members and $25 for non-members. Register here.

The 2015 Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference, featuring the Michigan Solid State Lighting Association Annual Symposium, will take place on Wednesday, October 29 in Lansing. 

SAVE THE DATE: The 3rd Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will be held Tuesday,November 10 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. Individual tickets can be purchased here. Contact Nicole Forward for more information on table purchases and other sponsorship opportunities.

Upcoming National Energy Events

The ACEEE National Conference on Energy Efficiency as a Resource will take place September 20-22 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Fortune’s ’Brainstorm E: Where Energy, Technology, and Sustainability Meet’ will take place September 28-29 in Austin. 

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.