This newsletter was originally published on July 14, 2017.
Innovation in Vehicle Electrification on the Rise
A series of announcements surrounding electric vehicles suggests that EVs could become mainstream sooner than some think, with Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicting that electric cars will outsell gasoline models by 2040. This comes as the auto industry continues to roll out electric and hybrid electric vehicles, including Volvo’s announcement that they are planning to ditch models that rely solely on internal combustion engine models for as part of its transition to vehicle electrification, and as Tesla begins delivery of the new Model 3, together with an expansion of its service operations.
In addition, a pilot program by carmaker BMW and utility PG&E proved that electric vehicles can be a valuable grid resource. The companies’ i ChargeForward program required that BMW provide PG&E with 100 kilowatts of grid resources when needed. BMW was able to provide the energy by both delaying charging for nearly 100 BMW i3 vehicles in the San Francisco Bay Area and also drawing from a second-life stationary battery system built from reused EV batteries, for the duration of 1 hour. The pilot demonstrated both day-ahead and real-time signals that were modeled after existing proxy demand resources from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), in order to test whether these resources could eventually participate at the wholesale level.
Over the 18-month pilot period, from July 2015 to December 2016, the i ChargeForward project dispatched 209 demand response events and provided a total of 19,500 kilowatt-hours, according to a recently released program report. This success demonstrates that electric vehicles are not just good for consumers, they are an asset to the grid.
One of the largest barriers for customers considering buying electric vehicles is still “range anxiety” – the fear that, without close enough charging stations, the car will limit their mobility rather than expand it. A critical step to electric vehicle proliferation, therefore, is widespread development of charging stations, both to meet drivers’ needs and to mitigate potential drivers’ concerns. For customers to make the move from simply considering an electric vehicle when shopping for their next car to actually purchasing one, they need to be able to see it as a useful tool rather than a burden – even as the U.S. Department of Energy concludes that electric vehicles save customers money.
Michigan, Home of the Auto Industry, is One of the Few States Not Offering EV Incentives
Michigan, the birthplace of the automotive industry, and the home of major auto companies over a century later, risks falling behind the curve in electric car deployment.
According to Mike Alaimo of Clean Fuels Michigan, Michigan is one of very few number of states that have no regulatory climate that incentivizes electric vehicles. So, 37 other states have a regulatory climate that in some way incentivizes alternative fuel vehicles and Michigan is not one of them.”
Alaimo argues that the state and the nation are at a critical point where the onset and advent of autonomous vehicles will drive a rapid acceleration in the electric vehicle adoption. That is because, he says, “autonomous vehicles are going to be electric vehicles.”
To increase the roll out of electric cars in Michigan, Alaimo suggests adopting policies to reduce the cost of such vehicles through tax credits aimed at both consumers and businesses. Beyond this, the state needs to better encourage the development of vehicle charging.
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MICHIGAN ENERGY NEWS:
- The Small Business Association of Michigan is working with Consumers Energy and DTE Energy to develop a program that will provide enhanced energy services to small businesses.
- Small, independently-owned power plants across Michigan are battling utility Consumers Energy over a Michigan Public Service Commission rate case that would determine how these independently owned facilities — most of which generate electricity using renewable hydroelectric and landfill gas power — are compensated by utilities for the power they produce. Independently owned advanced energy facilities in west Michigan have expressed cautious optimism that they will remain economically viable despite regulatory changes.
- Michigan EIBC members company The Mackinac Technology Company’s high-tech windows reduce customers’ energy loss.
- UPPCO submitted filings with Michigan Public Service Commission to lower power costs for customers.
- The mayor and council members of Madison Heights have joined other Michigan cities in showing support for the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Traverse City commissioners, who pledged 100% renewable energy by 2020, want more time to think about a power purchase agreement that could help.
- Clintondale High school was recognized as a Green School.
- The Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI) received more national news coverage for its report on the value of solar distributed generation.
- Michigan EIBC member company Cypress Creek Renewables hopes to build solar power farms in Huron County.
- UM’s Solar Car Team unveiled its latest design for an upcoming world competition.
- After filing for bankruptcy last year, Michigan EIBC member company Patriot Solar is still in the midst of a dispute with another company.
- Consumers Energy has broken ground on its third wind farm in Michigan.
- Michigan EIBC member company ITC Holdings’ Director of Regional Planning Alan Myers says that Infrastructure limits growth in wind power.
- ITC also promoted Gretchen Holloway to Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
- The engineer who released the report on potential alternatives to Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac says the pipeline has a 1 in 60 chance of breaking by 2053.
- The Fermi nuclear plant dumped higher-than-normal amounts of chlorine into Lake Erie.
- Traverse City’s first building operator certification training program offers discounted tuition of only $300 for public building operators.
- Michigan utilities are among those advocating for electric school buses under the Volkswagen settlement.
- The New York Times profiled Ann Arbor’s rise as a hub for autonomous driving, declaring it “Michigan’s new motor city.”
NEWS FROM WASHINGTON:
- NPR’s Marketplace highlighted the big cuts looming for ARPA-E and other federal energy innovation efforts.
- President Trump traveled to Warsaw to present U.S. natural gas exports as a solution to Europe’s dependence on Russian oil. The President announced his expectations that an export deal could be brokered between American and Polish companies.
- The 19 other world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, reiterated their commitment to the Paris climate goals. It was also reported that the President spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of the Summit to discuss issues including trade and climate.
- A House appropriations bill for 2018 would cut the EPA budget by $500 million, as opposed to the $2.6 billion cut requested by the White House.
- President Trump is set to nominate energy attorney Kevin McIntyre to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This comes as energy leaders raise concerns over a potential loss of private investment is at stake if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission cannot conduct business by August. The Senate needs to confirm two FERC nominees in order for the agency to have a quorum of commissioners. Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson were approved 20 to 3 by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on June 6, though no Senate votes have yet been scheduled. President Trump also has nominated Richard Glick for a commissioner role, who is awaiting a hearing by the Senate panel.
NATIONAL GRID AND EFFICIENCY NEWS:
- Canada and Pennsylvania have approved Michigan EIBC member company ITC’sLake Erie Connector transmission line project.
- Energy Secretary Rick Perry says threat of cyberattacks on the electric grid is “real” and “ongoing.” Evidence mounts that Russia is behind recent attempts to hack U.S. power plants.
- Utilities are skeptical that energy storage will be enough to fully ensure reliability.
- Hawaiian Electric released a new grid modernization plan calling for an investment of about $205 million over six years.
- The CEO of PJM discussed the ins and outs of grid management “at a time of unprecedented change.”
NATIONAL SOLAR NEWS:
- Lawmakers in Oregon failed to extend a rooftop solar tax credit that is set to expire at the end of the year.
- Solar installers are spending more than ever on acquiring new residential customers, with costs totaling about $3,668 per customer.
- A Minneapolis community solar developer is focusing its efforts on low-income residents.
- The New York Times wrote abou how utility-backed lobbying campaigns have held back the residential solar industry. Meanwhile, Indiana is among several states where utility lobbyists have been successfully fighting net metering policies, and Maine’s governor vetoed a bill for a second time that would have kept net-metering incentives in place.
- A new online platform will let customers design their own solar installations based on their rooftop and then project cost and energy savings.
- A 52-megawatt solar installation in Mississippi is now generating electricity.
- Funding has been preserved for solar programs under Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act through a legislative override of the governor’s budget veto.
- The governor of Washington signed a bill to extend financial incentives for solar.
- Ohio’s largest solar farms are being planned at 3 sites across state.
- Duke Energy Kentucky won approval from state officials to build three new solar facilities.
- Many worry that North Carolina’s proposed wind moratorium will also threaten the state’s solar energy efforts.
NATIONAL WIND NEWS:
- An AEP subsidiary wants to buy a 175-megawatt wind project in northwest Ohio being developed by Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy. Invenergy is also partering with Appalachian Power to acquire two wind projects: Beech Ridge II Wind Facility, which will generate about 50 MW of power, and Hardin Wind Facility, which will generate 175 MW of power.
- Dominion Energy has plans to build two wind turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach, which would be the second offshore wind farm in the country.
- Developers of the Grain Belt Express wind energy transmission line will have another chance at regulatory approval in Missouri.
- The CEO of Xcel Energy discusses the increasing role of renewables in its generation mix and why wind will be its largest energy source by 2021.
NATIONAL BIOENERGY NEWS:
- The EPA proposed cutting 2018 requirements for the volume of biofuel used in gasoline and diesel fuel.
- The owner of a North Dakota oil refinery is considering retrofitting the facility to process soy or distillers corn oil into renewable diesel.
- The University of Notre Dame installed three geothermal fields to “lower campus carbon dioxide emissions, reduce use of natural gas and coal, and create long-term savings.”
NATIONAL FOSSIL FUEL NEWS:
- Energy Secretary Rick Perry says coal plants are needed for reliability. That statement comes ahead of the expected release next week of an internal DOE study on grid reliability.
- Mississippi regulators pulled the plug on the Kemper “clean coal” plant, ordering a utility to fuel the plant with natural gas instead.
- Proponents of coal and natural gas interests are at odds over a proposed 1,100-megawatt gas plant being planned near Springfield, Illinois.
- A report projects that U.S. natural gas exports will quadruple this year.
- Oil prices fell 2% on signs that the market is still oversupplied.
- The Department of Interior issued an order to accelerate permitting for drilling on federal lands.
- A federal report warned that hackers are targeting companies that operate nuclear power plants. A nuclear plant in Kansas was among those targeted by recent cyberattacks.
NATIONAL TECHNOLOGY AND MARKET NEWS:
- Morgan Stanley analysts projected that renewable energy sources would be the cheapest form of generation by 2020, cheap enough to enable the United States to exceed Paris Climate Agreement commitments.
- Two Michigan EIBC companies – VirginiaVirginia-based AES and German company Siemens – are teaming up to create a utility-scale energy storage company that will operate worldwide.
- Burburry, the international brewing company Carlsberg, and Paris-based insurer AXA are among the latest companies to commit to 100% renewable energy.
- A look inside Aspen, Colorado, where officials work to reach 100% renewable energy.
- Sources reported Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s energy program made progress in acquiring Texas energy transmission company Oncor.
- Tesla is planning to build the world’s largest lithium ion battery in Australia.
- Officials announce new plans for a merger between Great Plains Energy and Westar Energy.
- The U.S. got more electricity from renewable sources than it did from nuclear in March and April for the first time in decades.
NATIONAL VEHICLE AND MOBILITY NEWS:
- The City of Denver is restructuring the city’s public works department to prioritize transportation, including the prospect of a new cabinet-level Department of Transportation and Mobility.
- Mississippi is asking GreenTech Automotive to repay more than $6 million in state and local aid because the company failed to fulfill promises to create jobs.
- Tesla’s Model S is crushing the competition when it comes to large luxury cars.
- Minnesota officials are planning the next steps for a statewide electric vehicle charging network as EV adoption is expected to increase and the vehicles become more mainstream.
- Troubled electric car start-up Faraday Future is abandoning plans to construct a $1 billion manufacturing plant in Nevada.
- The first electric school bus in the Midwest will begin transporting students in a suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul school district this fall.
- Experts say Faraday Future’s decision to scrap plans for a $1 billion manufacturing plant in Nevada could be a sign of future trouble for the electric vehicle industry.
MICHIGAN ENERGY EVENTS:
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 challenges and opportunities for energy storage systems in grid/utility storage and automotive applications. Register here.
The MPSC will be holding its first Performance Based Regulation (PBR) stakeholders discussion meeting on July 24th from 2:00-5:00 pm at the Lake Michigan Hearing room at the MPSC office at 7109 W. Saginaw, Lansing, MI 48917. Section 6u of PA 341 directs the Commission to complete a study of PBR and submit it to the Governor and Legislators by April 20, 2018. The legislative language references collaboration with stakeholders for this study. The MPSC is requesting input from Michigan utilities as well as other interested parties regarding PBR. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MPSC 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.
SAVE THE DATE: The Powering Mobility conference will take place on September 25 at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The event, which is the 4th Annual Michigan Energy Future Conference, will bring together leaders from industry, government, utilities, finance, and academe working at the nexus of advanced mobility and vehicle electrification.
The 1st Annual Sustainable Detroit Forum is scheduled for October 25. The event will consist of interactive learning, keynotes, and short presentations. Proposals for presentations will be accepted for Sustainable Projects, Personal Green Stories, and Lessons Learned/Greatest Failures.
NATIONAL ENERGY EVENTS:
The 2017 National Energy Codes Conference is July 17-20 in Pittsburgh. This event is the only national conference dedicated solely to energy codes. The theme this year is “Bridges to the Future.” The conference will focus on achieving compliance but sessions will also cover development, adoption, policy, tools and research. For more information, see the Department of Energy website.
Energy Storage North America will take place August 8-10 in San Diego. As the largest conference and expo for grid-connected energy storage in North America, Energy Storage North America brings together utilities, regulators, municipal leaders, project developers, investors, systems integrators, and commercial and industrial customers for top-tier networking and information sharing.
EUCI is hosting “Addressing Process and Technical Issues for Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources” August 14-15 in Chicago. The conference will serve as a forum for all entities involved in the interconnection process to review process and technical issues for interconnecting grid-scale renewable energy and Distributed Energy Resource (DER) projects. Panel sessions will feature the perspectives of distribution, developers, utilities, and system operators to share their expertise and discuss best practices for optimizing the interconnection process. Register here.
Solar Power International will take place September 10-13 in Las Vegas. Powered by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Smart Electric Power Alliance, SPI is the largest and fastest growing solar show in North America.
Renewable Energy Grid Operations: Integration, Forecasting, Modeling, Planning and Curtailment, hosted by EUCI, is scheduled for September 11-12 in Austin, Texas. This conference will evaluate the biggest challenges to renewable energy integration, and identify solutions and pathways that coordinate responses and overcome these challenges. Case studies from experts and industry professionals from around the country will share their experiences and lessons learned on renewable integration. Register here.
Join SEIA and Smart Electric Power Alliance for Solar Power Midwest in Chicago, October 19-20. The event features multiple networking and educational opportunities with a targeted, buying audience. Register here.
A web site 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.
World Resources Institute recently published an Implementation Guide for Utilities, outlining best practices in designing renewable energy projects to meet large energy customers’ needs.
The Michigan Energy Office is offering rebates to eligible applicants to upgrade existing public streetlights with LED lights through the Exterior LED Lighting Rebate Program. The purpose of this program is to encourage energy waste reduction and promote community vitality by accelerating the transition to energy efficient LED lighting. MEO will match utility rebates up to $0.35/W reduced. Applicants with no utility rebate will be awarded at a rate of $0.35/W reduced. For more information or to apply, click here.