Newsletter: DTE to Eliminate Renewable Energy Surcharge

This newsletter was originally published on June 1, 2015.

DTE to Eliminate Renewable Energy Surcharge

DTE Electric has recently filed a rate change request to eliminate the renewable energy surcharges from their customer bills. The surcharge will be removed beginning January 2016 and the action is expected to reduce electric rates by $15 million per year. DTE Electric also indicated that it will be able to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard by 2015. The company also plans to explore a voluntary program for customers who want more than 10% of their power to be generated from renewable energy sources.

Consumer’s Energy, the other major investor owned utility in Michigan, has already eliminated their renewable surcharges. Both companies taking this action highlights the economic feasibility in creating new renewable generation.

The elimination of these renewable energy surcharges is additional proof of the rapid decline in costs associated with renewable energy in Michigan, and additional evidence of the success of the 2008 renewable energy law that has spurred more than $3 billion in economic activity tied to renewable energy projects in Michigan.


MPSC Adds New Renewable Energy Credit Program for Small-Scale Projects

The Michigan Renewable Energy Certification System (MIRECS) Fee Schedule now includes a category for “nano” sized projects – those less than 10kw in size – for which the initial MIRECS registration fee is only $25, and the yearly subscription is free. This was designed mainly for those with small, onsite renewable generation, typically the type of arrays found at someone’s home. This comes at a good time, as 5 Lakes Energy LLC has recently announced they are discontinuing their RECs program at the end of 2015. Those interested in registering can find details of the new fee schedule here.


Federal POWER Act Introduced to Encourage CHP, Waste-Heat-to Power

Earlier this week, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and  Bob Casey (D-PA) and Representatives Tom Reed (R-23rd NY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-3rd OR) introduced the Senate and House versions of The Power Resiliency and Efficiency (POWER) Act, which would improve the federal tax incentive for industrial energy efficiency applications, such as combined heat & power (CHP). The POWER Act would make the following changes to Section 48 of the tax code (the Investment Tax Credit) to reduce the capital costs of combined heat and power and waste heat to power projects, and provide parity compared with other clean and efficient energy technologies:

  • Increase the credit from 10 percent to 30 percent.  Some energy technologies, such as solar, currently receive a 30 percent ITC, but combined heat and power is only eligible for 10 percent. Raising the level of the credit would establish parity and allow technologies to better compete with one another.
  • Apply the credit towards a project’s first 25 megawatts, rather than the first 15 megawatts, and remove the cap limiting the credit to projects under 50 megawatts. The current caps have hindered the deployment of industrial energy efficiency technologies for large energy users.
  • Extend the credit for two years, to the end of 2018. The current ITC is set to expire in December 2016.
  • Add WHP as a qualifying technology that is able to access the ITC.


Nominations Open for Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards

Nominations are now open for the first annual Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards! These prestigious awards are designed to honor the innovators, the trendsetters, and those completely committed to energy efficiency in Michigan. You can shine a spotlight on the people and organizations who are putting in the work to save energy and help Michigan become a leader in this important work by nominating them for one of the following award categories:

  • Innovator of the Year
  • Contractor of the Year
  • Best Communication or Education Program
  • Best Project (Residential)
  • Best Project (Commercial – Private Sector)
  • Best Project (Commercial – Public Sector)
  • Best Project (Industrial/ Manufacturing)
  • Best Project (Agriculture)

The awards event, happening this September in Lansing, is headlined by Governor Rick Snyder, who will select the awardees. The ceremony is exclusive to finalists, their guests, sponsors, and the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards Steering Committee.  

Nominations are due by Friday, July 31, and can be made online at


Michigan Energy News

Battery company A123 announced plans to double global battery production, including adding capacity to its two Michigan plants, as part of a $200 million investment. The company also said it will be profitable for the first time in 2015.

Michigan is on track to be 70 percent of the way towards meeting its 2020 benchmark for the EPA Clean Power Plan because of the state’s energy optimizations and renewable energy standards, as well as announced coal plant closures, according to a UCS report.

The Michigan House Roads and Economic Development Committee voted this week to advance HB 4612, which would raise vehicle registration fees for electric vehicles and hybrids by $100 and $30, respectively. This is actually a reduction from the original bill language, which would have increased registration fees for electric vehicles to $225, and $100 for hybrids. As part of the same bill package, committee members approved HB 4607 and 4608 that would shift $185 million in economic development programs like the 21st Century Jobs Fund to road repair.

Chateau Chantal Winery & Inn will soon offset approximately 40% of their energy needs with a new 148.5 kW solar array by Harvest Energy Solutions.

A new US Department of Energy report showing Michigan could get up to 45 percent of its energy through wind power by 2050.


National Energy News

The EPA Clean Power Plan went to the White House for their final review, the last step before the new rules are released. EPA plans a formal release for the rules in August.

A University of Michigan sponsored poll indicates that 74% of Americans support renewable energy mandates like Michigan’s RPS.

EPA last week released long-awaited draft rules for the volume of biofuels to be included in the nation’s fuels.

The federal government has approved three solar power farms to be built on Bureau of Land Management land in Nevada. The farms will generate enough energy to power 132,000 homes, The Hill reports.

With the company soon breaking ground on its 300th solar power site, WalMart is increasingly engaged in efforts to promote access to renewable energy in states across the country.

IKEA is also doubling down on its renewable energy efforts, adding an additional 600 million euros to install solar arrays on its stores as part of its commitment to get all of its energy from renewable resources by 2020.


Upcoming Michigan Energy Events
The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association’s annual Michigan Energy Fair will be held this year on June 26-27, 2015 at the Ingham County Fairgrounds in Mason.

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 10 from 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.
Greenteech Media’s 2015 Green Edge Live conference will take place June 23-25 in San Diego.
The 12th Annual Renewable Energy Finance Forum – Wall Street is taking place June 24-25 in New York.

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.