Newsletter: Bioenergy Industry Creates Jobs, Supports Communities

This newsletter was originally published on February 14, 2018.

Bioenergy Industry Creates Jobs, Supports Communities

An opinion piece in the Petoskey News-Review highlights the positive environmental and economic impact of bioenergy.

Guest columnist Emily Pallarito spoke with Kevin O’Connell of Michigan EIBC member company Michigan CAT, to learn about the generation of bioenergy.

O’Connell explained, “Biogas and bioenergy is really simple when you consider it at its most basic level. When organic waste rots or begins to biodegrade, it releases some level of natural gas/methane. When this waste is put into a landfill or anaerobic digester, this gas is captured and put to beneficial use. This gas can be used to run generators, boilers or even treated and put into the natural gas pipeline which brings natural gas into your house for your furnace, gas range or clothes dryer.”

This information set the backdrop for Pallarito’s trip up north to visit Viking Energy’s facility in McBain, Michigan. The plant is a biomass facility that burns local wood fibers to produce energy. The facility has a positive economic and environmental impact, sustaining 26 full-time jobs – and supporting hundreds of other jobs in industries throughout the state – as well as managing residual waste.

Pallarito also visited the Viking Energy Plant in Lincoln, Michigan, which employs 20 full-time workers and invests $200,000 to $300,000 locally per year. Viking Energy processes chopped tires from a Flint company to generate electricity.

Pallarito also spoke with Gary Melow, director of Michigan EIBC member company, Michigan Biomass. Melow explained that bioenergy is commonly misunderstood, and that this leads to shortcomings in state policy. He advocates for a greater understanding of bioenergy and support of the industry.

Pallarito’s report highlights the many ways the bioenergy industry creates jobs and supports local communities.


New & Renewing Members

Active in the Americas since 1997, Renewable Energy Systems has offices throughout the US and Canada. Our current renewable energy and RESolve energy storage construction portfolio exceeds 10,000 MW and 100 projects. Our transmission and distribution team, RES T&D, has built over 1,000 miles of t-lines, 100 substations, and 300 miles of distribution circuits. We have a robust development pipeline of wind and solar projects across the US and Canada, and the Americas operates more than 400 MW of renewable energy and energy storage projects.


Michigan Policy, Regulation & Utilities

  • Governor Rick Snyder announced that Anne Armstrong Cusack will serve as Acting Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy following the departure of former director Valerie Brader.
  • A new ballot initiative would require Michigan utilities to generate at least 30% of their energy from renewable sources by 2030.
  • A Democratic candidate in Michigan says the state needs a “real legal plan” in order to shut down the Line 5 pipeline.
  • Governor Snyder received an award for energy waste reduction efforts.
  • Algansee township in south-central Michigan adopted a two-year moratorium on utility-scale wind and solar projects.
  • Michigan regulators are asking DTE Energy to explain why it cut off power to several thousand customers last year under a new billing system.
  • DTE Energy requested a 50% reduction for valuation of the Monroe Power Plant, representing a market shift toward advanced energy.

Michigan Energy Leaders

  • DTE Energy plans to cut carbon footprint by 80% by 2050.
  • Ann Arbor commits to 100% renewable energy by 2035.
  • Eastern Michigan University unveiled its new co-generation plant Friday, an investment that has made the university the first in Michigan to generate nearly 100% of its campus energy needs.
  • MSU Extension and the Michigan Farm Bureau are teaming up to offer programs for farmers around the state to understand the solar leases, zoning considerations and tax implications.
  • Crystal Fresh Market in Crystal Falls, Michigan, upgraded to energy-efficient refrigeration.


National Energy Stories

  • The Senate passed a budget bill that contains $2 billion for electric reconstruction in Puerto Rico, plus tax credits for nuclear power and orphan technologies like fuel cells, microturbines and carbon capture.
  • Canadian solar manufacturers are suing the Trump administration over its new tariffs on imported solar modules, saying the policy violates the Trade Act and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
  • Energy Department officials are considering providing emergency aid for coal plants operated by FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. that may be at risk of closing.
  • EPA data shows the agency collected nearly $5 billion in criminal fines and civil penalties in the last fiscal year.
  • Democratic senators want Pruitt to recuse himself from overseeing the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, saying evidence for his “inalterably closed mind on CPP rulemaking is overwhelming.”
  • A Senate committee advanced the nomination of climate denier and coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler for the position of EPA deputy administrator after he threw the Senators fundraisers.
  • The European Union is demanding compensation for new tariffs on solar equipment imported by the U.S., saying Germany is a major exporter of modules.
  • Xcel Energy is preparing a pilot program in two Minneapolis neighborhoods that will automatically enroll more than 10,000 customers into time-of-use rates during peak hours.

National Energy Leaders

  • 13 colleges and universities including Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, The Ohio State University, The State University of New York, The University of California, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Maryland-College Park, The University of New Mexico, and the University of Washington are collaborating to meet local climate goals.
  • Clean energy consultants still see strong corporate interest in direct renewables investment, despite an uncertain tax equity market.


Michigan Energy Events 

Advancing Women in Energy (AWE) invites you to a reception and conversation with Katherine Hamilton, Chair of 38 North Solutions and Energy Gang Member. The reception is Thursday, February 15, from 1pm-3pm in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Become a member and register here.

Michigan EIBC will host a Michigan Energy Forum on solar at member company Varnum’s Grand Rapids office on March 5. Stay tuned for registration details!

You’re invited to MEECA’s 4th Annual Gala & Awards Celebration on March 6 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. Learn more and register here.

Michigan EIBC’s 6th Annual Member Meeting is scheduled for April 30 in Lansing, followed by a Lobby Day on May 1. Mark your calendars, and register here to reserve your spot at the Annual Member Meeting today.

Michigan EIBC will host a Michigan Energy Forum on energy efficiency and lighting on June 11 at member company CLEAResult’s office in Detroit. Stay tuned for details!


National Energy Events  

EUCI invites you to the Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Utility Solar Rates Summit March 1-2 in Nashville, TN. The summit will explore common NEM rate structures and many alternatives under consideration and examine the array of options that utilities and regulatory commissions are looking to as a means for striking the necessary balance between promoting the advancement of solar policy and development, facilitating appropriate rate recovery, ensuring grid reliability and enabling consumer choice. Register here. Members, check out your inboxes for an exclusive member-only discount!

EUCI invites you to its Renewable Energy 101 Forum, March 12-13, in Portland, Oregon. Learn more and register here.

On March 13-15, energy innovators from across industry, government, and academia will gather at the Gaylord National Convention Center right outside Washington, DC for a three-day program showcasing transformational energy technologies. The 2018 Summit agenda has been posted online! ARPA-E has assembled 20+ panel discussions (including topics on defense, bioenergy, and grid technologies), networking receptions, and technology demonstrations. (Please note the agenda is subject to change). Register TODAY

EUCI is hosting two courses on smart metering: Smart Metering 101 and Advanced Smart Meeting courses on March 19 and March 20, respectively.

EUCI invites you to the Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Fundamentals conference on April 18 – 19 in Portland, Oregon. Register here.  

Join ACI in San Francisco on June 6-7 for Grid-Scale Storage 2018 and learn through different panel discussions, site tours, workshops, and presentations on the significant market opportunities for energy storage. This three-day conference will cover all aspects of the implementation of energy storage technologies as a key enabler of grid modernization, addressing the electric grid’s most pressing needs by improving its stability and resiliency. Investment in energy storage is essential for keeping pace with the soaring demand for electricity. Register here.

You’re invited to present, advertise, exhibit, or sponsor at The Energy Fair, June 15-17 in Custer, Wisconsin. Learn more and register here.


Announcements and Opportunities

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings is April 18. Join the awards and recognition program for energy use reduction today! The competition is open to all Michigan area commercial, industrial, non-profit, educational institutions & multi-family buildings. Any building type except single family residential. Registration ends March 31.

Nominations are now being accepted for the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards to honor Michigan organizations and individuals for their commitment to responsible energy production and consumption. The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards celebrate outstanding achievements by recognizing people and organizations that have taken firm, meaningful actions to stop energy waste. Last year, energy solutions honored at the awards ranged from installing energy-efficient, state-of-the-art heating, cooling and lighting systems to common-sense, lower-cost steps like caulking windows and adding insulation. Nominations can be submitted online at through March 31 with winners to be announced at a celebration in the fall. 

The Michigan Agency for Energy announced a $400 discount for public building operators who attend building operator certification classes this year in Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Lansing or Detroit. Register here for a Level 1 class and here for a Level 2 class.