Newsletter: Electric Vehicles Taking Off Nationally, Lagging in Michigan

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.


The Christman Company is a self perform builder, construction manager, and general contractor, in business for over 120 years, based in Michigan and with a footprint in the mid-south region. With average revenue around $800M, and a diverse, talented group of professionals, our capabilities fit for a broad range of project types and size.

Powerhome Solar is an American company, headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina that specializes in solar energy and roofing services. We were founded in 2006 as Rescomm and in 2014 made the decision to rebrand ourselves as Powerhome Solar & Roofing. This change reflected our vision and the direction we wanted to take the company. That direction has helped us grow our company to consist of over 100 passionate employees and still counting. We have also grown outside of North Carolina and currently operate in South Carolina as well as Michigan. In 2015 and 2016, Solar Power World magazine listed Powerhome as the No. 7 overall solar installation company in the U.S. We are also very excited that in 2016; We installed more solar energy systems than any other company in North and South Carolina. Our strong growth is consistent with our vision to innovate both in how we operate our company and the level of service we offer our customers. This means that we are one of the few companies that do “everything.” Among our primary services, the company designs, permits, finances, sells, installs, maintains and monitors solar energy systems and panels for residential, commercial, utility, and government applications. We also sell, design, and install full roof applications for commercial and residential clients.


Helios Solar provides turnkey solutions for Utility, Commercial, and Residential Photovoltaic Installations. Our founding principles of Environment, Economics, and Engineering guide our practices with the goal of designing and constructing the most efficient, value driven solar installations possible.



  • 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.








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

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

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 ProjectsPersonal Green Stories, and Lessons Learned/Greatest Failures.


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

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.