Newsletter: Comments on Consumers Distributed Solar Program Due Tomorrow

This newsletter was originally published on July 6, 2015.

Comments on Consumers Energy’s Distributed Solar Program Due Today

The Michigan Public Service Commission is currently reviewing an ex parte application from Consumers Energy to start a distributed generation solar program. Consumers intends to be the advisor, marketer, and packager of solar distributed generation systems for interested customers. The utility company also proposes to contract with one or more solar vendors to do the actual installation of these systems.  

Those interested in commenting on the application have until 5pm today. Comments should reference case no. U-17875, and can be directed to the MPSC at


Michigan EIBC Conveys Concerns on Senate Energy Package

Last week, Senate Energy Chair Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) and Vice-Chair John Proos (R-St. Joseph) introduced their much-anticipated legislative package to overhaul the 2008 energy laws. Senate Bills 437 and 438 would phase out the renewable portfolio and energy optimization standards, and instead move everything over to an integrated resource planning process and an energy waste reduction program for natural gas utilities. The legislation also defines “clean energy resource” as anything that currently complies with all state and federal regulations, or is carbon neutral.

This legislation was the result of a year-long workgroup process that included stakeholders like Michigan EIBC. Nofs and Proos gave workgroup members a week to review the legislation and send any comments and recommended revisions. Michigan EIBC contended that any positive energy legislation required three core elements, they are:

  • Maintain affordability for ratepayers by maximizing low-cost energy efficiency and using fuel-less generation sources to hedge against volatility in fossil fuel prices;
  • Align ratepayer interests with those of Michigan’s utilities by eliminating barriers to utilities integrating advanced energy solutions into their business models; and
  • Spur innovation and drive down costs for ratepayers by ensuring meaningful market access for third party energy providers.

While the bills as introduced contain a number of important elements, the legislation as a whole fails to meet these criteria. As repeatedly stated throughout the workgroup process, Michigan EIBC would prefer an approach that builds on the success of the current energy framework, including maintenance and expansion of the energy optimization and renewable energy programs. Michigan’s current laws have driven billions of dollars in new investment while generating hundreds of millions in savings to Michigan ratepayers. We should build on that success.

The Senate Energy and Technology Committee is likely to soon take up the legislation, potentially as early as next week. As this process continues, Michigan EIBC will continue to advocate on behalf of our business members. Want to make sure your company has a seat at the table? Join Michigan EIBC today!


New and Renewing Members

Arbor Wind

ArborWind is a green tech company that was formed to commercialize our “world changing” patented vertical axis wind turbine technology. Solving the engineering puzzle of a superior but unresolved Darieus design, ArborWind’s PT180 is a 60 kW – 180,000 kWh/yr. distributed power wind turbine that addresses the world’s green and low cost electricity needs. Its competitive advantages lie in its omni-directional vertical axis configuration, patented features that improve wind capture and energy generation, small footprint, modern aesthetics, urban and off-grid applicability, long service life, safety, reliability, and internet remote control. It’s an elegantly simple mechanical design that reduces manufacturing, shipping, installation, and maintenance costs.

The PT180 is positioned in the small and distributed wind markets with an unparalleled combination oflow operating cost and high power generation. Its levelized energy cost is less than large utility and other alternative electricity sources. ArborWind is targeting the farm, commercial, municipality, living complexes, military, and recreational operations markets. Areas of the US with both high wind and high energy costs will have increased benefit. Additional markets include countries with underdeveloped / unreliable power sources with or without grid access. ArborWind provides a superior turnkey energy solution.


Michigan Energy News

MLive wrote a piece about the Nofs/Proos energy package that includes a green-pricing program, where consumers can choose to have more renewable energy.

Wood TV 8’s “To The Point” had a recap of the current energy proposals being floated in the legislature

The Army National Guard facility in Battle Creek is planning for the installation of 780 solar panels, providing a third of its energy needs.

Both major investor-owned utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE, have been ordered by the MPSC to implement time of use rates.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has named Fredrick Molnar as its vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation. Molnar previously served as MEDC’s Biotech Venture Director.


National Energy News

Bloomberg has a piece on Facebook increasing their renewable energy targets to 50% by 2018.

The White House released a plan to increase solar energy usage for low and moderate income households.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy reports that the Clean Power Plan will stand up to legal challenges.

The Columbus Business Journal wrote a piece on corporate purchasing of onsite generation.


Upcoming Michigan Energy Events
The 2015 Michigan Energy Providers Conference will be held July 29-31 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The conference is presented by the Michigan Electric and Gas Association.

Michigan EIBC’s next West Michigan Advanced Energy Business Networking Meeting will take place Thursday, July 30 at Varnum in Grand Rapids. Registration and additional details will be available soon. As always, lunch will be provided and the meeting is free for Michigan EIBC Members and $25 for non-members. You can register here.

Michigan EIBC is hosting an Ann Arbor Advanced Energy Business Networking Meeting at Sakti3 on Friday, August 7 from 11am-2pm. Michigan EIBC will give an update on the current state and federal energy policy debate and Sakti3 President and Michigan EIBC Board Member Dr. Ann Marie Sastry will talk about the company’s current work. Lunch will be provided. This meeting is free for Michigan EIBC Members and $25 for non-members. Register here.

The September Michigan Energy Forum meeting will be held Thursday, September 10from 5-7pm at Ann Arbor SPARK. The theme for the September meeting is “Michigan Solar Industry Update – Policy and Market Trends.”

Upcoming National Energy Events
Solar Power International will be held this year from September 14-17 in Anaheim, California.
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.