This newsletter was originally published on May 26, 2017.
Advanced Energy Programs Hit Hard in Trump Budget Proposal
President Trump released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 on Tuesday, proposing to cut or eliminate a number of advanced energy programs in both the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, among other departments.
Many of these cuts were expected, though the extent of the reductions contained goes beyond even what had previously been reported and gives new details about additional programs to be eliminated.
Overall, the proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of Energy’s energy programs are largely offset by increases in nuclear storage programs. However, this topline number masks much deeper reductions in individual programs, including a nearly 70 percent cut to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
The Energy Department’s budget proposal also calls for elimination of a number of programs, including the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E); the program that funds state energy offices; the DOE loan programs, including the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program; and the Offices of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.
Finally, the budget proposal seeks to sell off a number of federal energy assets, including the transmission assets owned by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the Southwest Power Administration (SWPA), and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), as well as approximately half of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The President’s budget proposal would also impose a 31% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, the largest reduction of any agency or department. While the proposal to eliminate the successful ENERGY STAR program has generated some attention, the budget would also eliminate a number of other EPA-administered energy programs, including the Combined Heat-and-Power Partnership that works to spur deployment of cogeneration systems and the Green Power Partnership, which seeks to accelerate opportunities for businesses and communities to procure renewable energy resources, among other programs. The budget proposal also reduces EPA spending on basic research, cutting EPA’s Office of Science and Technology by nearly half.
The budget discussion now shifts to Congress, where legislative leaders have voiced concerns about a number of elements contained in the budget. In the budget deal from earlier this month that keeps the government running through September, Congress largely maintained funding for energy programs, increasing the DOE energy efficiency and renewable energy programs by $21 million while imposing a cut of just 1 percent to the EPA budget.
Michigan EIBC will continue to speak out for our member companies and the Michigan advanced energy industry, working with Michigan’s congressional delegation to highlight the concrete ways federal energy programs benefit our industry and our state.
Wyoming Becomes First Kent County Community to Join Statewide PACE Program
The City of Wyoming recently voted to authorize the use of property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, becoming the first Kent County community to join the statewide Lean &Green Michigan PACE program. In authorizing PACE, Wyoming cleared the way for a planned Hilton hotel to use the innovative financing mechanism to incorporate energy upgrades in its construction plans.
With the addition of Wyoming, a total of twenty Michigan counties and the second largest city in Kent County are now part of the statewide financing program.
Geronimo Energy is a leading North American renewable energy development company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with satellite offices located in southwest Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, New York and Michigan. Geronimo Energy provides renewable energy development solutions for utilities, electric cooperatives, municipal power agencies, corporations and communities who seek to secure the supply of affordable, reliable, and sustainable renewable energy. Geronimo Energy has developed over 70 wind farms and solar projects throughout the United States. Over 1,600 MWs of wind and solar projects developed by Geronimo Energy are either operational or currently under construction. Geronimo Energy has a multi-gigawatt development pipeline of wind and solar projects in various stages of development throughout the United States.
Michigan Energy News:
- Michigan House Energy Policy Committee Chairman Gary Glenn hosted a town hall in Caro last week on renewable energy. At the meeting, Representative Glenn repeated his call for legislation to repeal Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard.
- HB 4457, which would authorize the use of tax-exempt lease purchase agreements for community colleges in financing energy upgrades, received unanimous support from the House Local Government Committee this week. The legislation, which mirrors many of the provisions targeted at public schools in Public Act 23 of 2017, is now awaiting consideration by the full House.
- The City of Detroit has hired Joel Howrani Heeres as its first Director of Sustainability. Howrani has been working with the City since 2015 as Detroit’s Director of Open Data and Analysis for the Department of Innovation and Technology, and previously worked with DTE Energy, EcoWorks Detroit, and the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office.
- Midwest Energy News summarizes the announcements from Michigan’s two largest utilities – DTE Energy and Consumers Energy – increase commitments to advanced energy in response to customer demand, including quotes from IEI President Dan Scripps.
- Indiana Michigan Power is using an award-winning demand response program to contract directly with customers to provide 55 MW of load curtailment capabilities.
- Allan O’Shea of Michigan EIBC member company CBS Solar received a Special Renewable Energy Award at the 29th Annual Northern Michigan Environmentalist of the Year Celebration on April 29th, 2017. Allan was previously inducted into the Michigan Energy Innovators Hall of Fame at Michigan EIBC’s annual Gala. Congratulations Allan!
- The League of Conservation Voters released Governor Snyder’s Report Card last week, giving the Governor an “A’ for clean energy for his role in passing the bipartisan energy reforms in 2016.
- Consumers Energy will spend $440 million modernizing its natural gas system this year.
- Ford Motor Company has announced that former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett, and who most recently headed up Ford’s Smart Mobility division, will take over as CEO. Here’s
- Consumers Energy announced that Brandon Hofmeister will take over for Dave Mengebier as Senior Vice President for Governmental, Regulatory & Public Affairs, with Mengebier serving as Senior Vice President and Senior Policy Advisor until his retirement at the end of November. Additionally, Lauren Youngdahl Snyder has been named Vice President of Customer Experience.
- Michigan EIBC member company Apex Clean Energy is in the early stages of developing a wind farm in Isabella County.
- As costs go down, solar projects are on the rise across Michigan.
- Consumers Energy is donating nearly $1 million worth of energy efficiency productsto historical buildings across Michigan.
- The Michigan Energy Office is offering discounted tuition for the Building Operator Certification Program, whose graduates have proven to save an average of $10,800 annually on electric bills of the buildings where they implement changes.
- Michigan was recognized for leadership in clean tech among other Midwest states.
- Michigan legislators are fighting against subpoenas in a lawsuit regarding a bill that blocked Tesla Motor Company from selling its cars in Michigan.
- Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are once again pushing for advanced automotive legislation.
- Ford says it will invest $350 million at a Michigan plant that builds transmissions that can help achieve better fuel efficiency.
National Energy News:
- The grid reliability study called for by Energy Secretary Rick Perry continues to draw opposition, including from DOE staff and advanced energy advocates.
- Advocacy groups have called for the Department of Justice to remand the Clean Power Plan instead of leaving it on freeze while the Trump administration evaluates it.
- Senate Republicans are pushing for a vote on a bill to eliminate a seasonal ethanol restriction.
- After requesting input which regulations to cut, the EPA received more than 55,000 public comments in favor of maintaining existing regulations.
- The Department of Energy will publicize its internal electric grid review following accusations that the study is intentionally designed to undermine the wind industry.
- The EPA’s newest appointee is a former energy lobbyist for a group that opposed the Clean Power Plan, which could violate President Trump’s executive order barring political appointees who worked as registered lobbyists within the last two years.
- The American Wind Energy Association Board of Directors elected Tristan Grimbert, President and CEO of EDF Renewable Energy, to replace Chris Brown of Vestas as Chair of the AWEA Board. In addition, AWEA added three new board members and two new special advisors, including Rob Trelkeld, General Manager of Renewable Energy for General Motors.
- New U.S. residential solar capacity dropped by 17% over Q1 2016.
- Michael Liebrich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance posted a blog post on Six Design Principles for the Power Markets of the Future.
- Multiple hurdles are preventing the world from generating terawatts of solar power, according to a new study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
- An Arizona utility proposed new export rates and time-of-use rates for solar, which could reduce incentives for customers.
- A plan is in the works to install floating solar panels in a reservoir in California.
- The Solar Energy Industries Association will fight Suniva’s petition to impose import duties on solar panels because the plan “poses an existential threat to the broad solar industry and its 260,000 American jobs.”
- Michigan EIBC member company CLEAResult is partnering with NV Energy to implement the Lower Income Solar Energy Pilot Program.
- NRG announced the completion of its first seven community solar projects in Minnesota that generate a total of 32 MW.
- A one-of-a-kind grid-responsive solar farm in the Mojave Desert could help with grid stability.
- An Illinois senator is arguing to strike a provision on certification and training standards for wind developers from recent energy legislation to spur an additional $2 billion in wind development.
- The Maryland Public Service Commission is beginning an offshore wind project as a way to meet advanced energy goals and create jobs.
- Legislators in Texas and North Carolina are considering legislation to prevent local governments from offering tax incentives for wind farms near military aviation facilities.
- An Oregon-based wind farm that is being developed for Apple may have a smaller footprint due to taller, more powerful turbines.
- Oregon regulators are opposing Portland General Electric’s plan to spend nearly $1 billion on advanced energy in upcoming years, calling it risky and unnecessary.
- Major mining companies are using more advanced energy to drive down costs.
- According to the Energy Information Administration, large commercial buildings are the most likely to use lighting control strategies.
- A utility in Vermont is teaming up with Tesla to offer home backup batteries for $15 per month.
- Utah-based Vivint Solar is teaming up with Mercedes-Benz to offer homeowners batteries to store excess solar power.
- President Trump’s executive order last week on cybersecurity calls for an assessment of the U.S. power grid.
- Xcel Energy is helping lead efforts in Minnesota to modernize the state’s power grid.
- Ameren Illinois unveils the “most advanced” microgrid system in North America at the University of Illinois.
- Madison Gas & Electric Co. shareholders urged the utility to pursue more advanced energy and opportunities in clean transportation.
- American Electric Power is requesting to raise its fixed charges for Ohio customersby more than double. Critics worry this will remove incentives for energy efficiency and distributed generation.
- A Missouri utility has adopted inclining block rates, which will incentivize customers to use less electricity.
- Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed an infrastructure funding bill that includes $3 million for the state’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure program.
- County commissioners in Ohio approved a 12-year, 80% tax abatement for an ethanol producer as a way to expand operations.
- A new study is encouraging utilities to be proactive when it comes to incorporating electric vehicles and infrastructure so that charging “coincides with grid needs.”
- An Ohio steelmaker was awarded $1.8 million from the Department of Energy to research advanced materials for electric vehicle motors.
- Electric vehicle sales rose over 90% in California during the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same time last year, largely due to sales of Tesla and Chevrolet Bolt.
- Cadillac’s new CT6 hybrid sedan – which has an all-electric range of about 40 miles before switching to gasoline – is winning high praise from critics.
- Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute are teaming up with 10 cities on the Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles. The initiative launched with the publication of Taming the Autonomous Vehicle: A Primer for Citiesto inform how cities respond to the arrival of autonomous vehicles.
- A new report from the Smart Electric Power Alliance predicts that electric vehicles could grow from 1 TWh of consumption to more than 550 TWh by 2040 – and whether that growth is a net benefit or not depends on the actions utilities take today.
Michigan Energy Events:
Join Michigan EIBC, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), and Advancing Women in Energy (AWE) in Detroit for an Advanced Energy Networking Reception hosted by CLEAResult on June 16. There will be a brief program with remarks by Carla Walker-Miller, President and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services and President of The AABE Michigan Chapter and Liesl Eichler Clark, President of MiEIBC and boardmember of AWE. Register here.
Join Groundwork Center and Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association at Northwestern Michigan College June 23-25 in Traverse City for a conference designed to mobilize clean energy investments in homes, businesses, and communities. The conference includes a free film screening, panel discussions, keynote speakers, and a fair. For more information, click here.
The 2017 PlugVolt Battery Seminar is scheduled for July 18-20 in Ann Arbor. Industry leaders, policy decision-makers, and key stakeholders from more than 80 companies are expected to gather at the PlugVolt Battery Seminar to learn more about the challengers and opportunities for energy storage systems in grid/utility storage and automotive applications. Register here.
The Michigan Public Service Commission will host a technical conference on the future of electric vehicle charging on August 9 at the public service commission office, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. Subject matter experts interested in participating in a panel are asked to submit a letter of interest, resume and summary of expertise to Al Freeman at the commission offices or by e-mail to email@example.com.
The 1st Annual Sustainable Detroit Forum is scheduled for October 25. The event will consist of interactive learning, keynotes, and short presentations. Acoustic musicians will perform during breaks. Proposals for presentations will be accepted for Sustainable Projects, Personal Green Stories, and Lessons Learned/Greatest Failures. Proposals are due July 14.
National Energy Events:
GTM’s annual Solar Summit is scheduled for May 16-18, and GTM is offering 15% off tickets with the code MWENERGY15.
The 4th Annual Midwest Solar Expo & Smart Energy Symposium is May 22-24 in Minneapolis. Register today.
The annual AWEA Windpower Conference is taking place May 22-25 in Anaheim, CA.
TRC is hosting a two-day conference on Developing Solar on Landfills and Brownfields on June 12-13 in Chicago. The event 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.
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.
A web page from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on the laws, which took effect on April 20. For more information, or to sign up for notifications, visit www.michigan.gov/energylegislation.
The Michigan Energy Office (MEO), in partnership with the States of Tennessee, Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, the National Association of State Energy Officials, and The Climate Registry, is inviting interested parties to comment on the National Energy Efficiency Registry (NEER) Principles & Operating Rules, which are open for public comment until May 31, 2017. Information on the NEER can be found at www.NEERegistry.org, as well as a FAQ document and description of sample NEER user scenarios.
The NRDC has put together a blog on the recent announcements from Consumers and DTE.