Newsletter: Consumers IRP Raises Questions for Solar Developers

This solar newsletter was originally published on July 20, 2018.

Consumers IRP Raises Questions for Solar Developers

In June, Consumers Energy proposed its new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) in case U-20165. This IRP is the first by a Michigan utility that follows the new rules initiated by the 2016 energy legislation and developed by the Michigan Public Service Commission with stakeholder input in 2017. In the IRP, Consumers proposes to  phase coal plants out of service and invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Patti Poppe, CEO of Consumers Energy, stated that the utility expects solar costs to decline by 35% by 2040, justifying Consumers’ notable shift toward solar in coming years. In fact, Consumers’ IRP outlines a dramatic increase in solar energy owned or under contract by the utility, increasing from 11 MW today to 6 GW by 2040.

Although these changes will significantly increase renewable energy generation in Michigan, it is unclear what the proposals by Consumers Energy will mean for utility-scale solar developers. Particularly important for the solar industry moving forward will be Consumers’ proposed shift away from using PURPA contracts to procure large scale solar generation. Consumers instead proposes to use a competitive bid process to procure renewable generation and proposes a Financial Compensation Mechanism to compensate the utility for power purchase agreements.

As the first IRP submitted under the 2016 energy law, it will be important to follow the progress of the Consumers IRP and its implications for solar development in the state, particularly since it will likely influence the other utility IRPs to follow. Michigan EIBC, along with the Institute for Energy Innovation, has formally intervened in the case and  will advocate on behalf of member companies and the advanced energy industry. Interested EIBC member companies are encouraged to join our new regulatory sub-committee and support our efforts in this intervention (email to learn more).

Michigan EIBC President Discusses Solar Industry in Yale Climate Connections Video

Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark was featured in a video created by Yale Climate Connections. The video highlights the development and success of solar and other advanced energy generation sources in Michigan, including great visuals of existing Michigan projects. Clark focused on the recent cost declines in solar energy production and the benefits of advanced energy to Michigan’s economy.

“We all need to rethink our understanding of energy generation resources,” Clark said. “Technology and market changes are making these types of [renewable] resources the lowest-cost alternative, while they also continue to keep a downward pressure on rates.”


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Events to Watch:
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) invite you to Solar Power International, September 24-27, in Anaheim, California. Registration opens in spring of 2018 here.

EUCI invites you to the Retooling PURPA conference on August 20-21 in Atlanta, Georgia. Register here.

Energy Storage North America invites you to its Solar + Storage Summit November 6-8 in Pasadena, California. Register here.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) invite you to Solar Power Midwest in Chicago on November 14-15.

Save the Date: Michigan EIBC’s Annual Energy Innovator’s Gala is scheduled for Wednesday, November 14, in Lansing. Watch your inboxes for a formal invitation, agenda, and registration details.