Newsletter: Flint Water Crisis Emails Unveils Governor’s Energy Strategy; RPS Needed to Build Renewables

This newsletter was originally published on March 28, 2016.

Flint Water Crisis Emails Unveils Governor’s Energy Strategy

Since the Governor released a number of emails to shed light on the Flint Water Crisis, several other issues have become public. One email made it clear that the governor’s office knew the 30 percent renewable energy/energy efficiency goal by 2025 included in the House Energy Committee substitute was unlikely to lead directly to any new renewable energy being built.

In November of 2015, the House Energy Policy Committee voted out a three-bill package rewriting the state’s energy laws governing retail open access to energy and planning, as well as beginning the process to interconnect the state’s two peninsulas. House bills 4927 and 4298 made changes to the regulatory structure for the electricity market in Michigan including replacing the state’s existing Energy Optimization (EO) and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) with a 30 percent ‘clean energy goal for 2025. This goal would be reached with a mix of renewables and energy efficiency. The goal also used new incentives to encourage further energy waste management beyond the 1 percent a year reduction under the EO standard. Critics have suggested that the goal was both not ambitious enough, and lacked the structure to assure new renewable build in Michigan.

Now it is becoming clear that the governor’s office knew this, too.  Ever since Governor Snyder’s administration came under fire for the Flint Water Crisis, his office has continued to release inter office emails in the name of transparency and accountability.

“If asked: the media has finally figured out that the 30% goal by 2025 language from your energy message that made it into legislation doesn’t actually involve building any more renewables,” according to the email. Snyder’s former press secretary Dave Murray said the goal language inserted in HB 4297 was drafted by the Michigan Agency for Energy. Snyder spokesman Ari Adler also confirmed that a 30 percent clean energy goal could be met by only building out natural gas.

The story was originally broke by ClimateWire two weeks ago, with Midwest Energy News running another story last week. Meanwhile, Michigan EIBC with Clean Energy Trust released that Michigan ranks second in the Midwest for renewable energy jobs. “Extending Michigan’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards will drive further growth and investment in this sector, which would mean lower costs and tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs,” said Michigan EIBC President Liesl Clark.

HB 4287 and its companion bills, HB 4298 and HB 4575, remain on the floor of the Michigan House.

MAE Announces Matching Funds Grant as a Part of DOE Small Business Voucher Program

The Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) is making $140,000 available in matching funds as cost share support for the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Small Business Voucher Program (SBV).  Applications for the matching funds are due April 1.

A total of $2 million is available through the SBV program, which will be handed out in three rounds of requests. The second round is currently beginning. This DOE pilot program is meant to help grow the advanced energy industry. These vouchers allow small businesses to access world-class researchers, facilities and expertise at participating DOE national laboratories across the country. The funding is in nine technical areas: advanced manufacturing, wind power, water power, solar power, biofuels, fuel cells, geothermal, buildings, and vehicles. Individual vouchers will be worth between $50 thousand and up to $300 thousand. A 20% cost share of the total project cost is required, which can be in-kind.

That is where MAE becomes involved. Those interested in receiving cost share support to be eligible for the SBV program can apply for matching funds from the state office. A total of $140 thousand is available for this round of funding. The MAE requires a dollar for dollar match for the cost share support, with individual awards not to exceed $30 thousand per Michigan company.

Who is eligible? Any business with fewer than 500 full-time employees, and are both U.S. based and owned can apply for the DOE program. Businesses that are Michigan based and located can apply for the MAE matching funds program. DOE’s current funding rounds goes until April 10, and the MAE application for matching funds is due April 1. Please visit  and MAE’s site for more information about both programs and find out how to apply.


New/Renewing Members

Saginaw Future

Saginaw Future is a Non-profit economic development organization that provides assistance to companies locating or expanding in Saginaw County, with a goal of generating new jobs and investment. Areas of assistance include financial and incentive packaging, site location assistance, market area expansion, industrial site development and serves as a business liaison to local government.

Solar Winds Power System, LLC.

As a privately owned certified green company, Solar Winds Power Systems is an innovative solar project developing company that provides custom designed turn-key solar electric systems for business and residential applications. Financial impact discussions and options are reviewed with clients using financial spreadsheets and energy efficiency strategies.

Declared the premier installer of solar electric arrays in West Michigan for the past six years, Solar Winds Power Systems has engineered and installed over 75 grid-tied and off-grid systems using the latest technology to assist clients with energy independence; these solar arrays are sized to handle up to 100% of client electrical needs.

Customers are the number one priority of Solar Winds Power Systems whose success and growth comes primarily through satisfied customer referrals and references. A reputation of high integrity and engineering prowess has been established from a Michigan based team rooted deeply in the solar electric business.

Solar Winds Power Systems team members can be reached for solar project modeling or (616) 635-7855. 


Michigan Energy News

Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Reporter, MI Tech News, MIRS, WBCK, WOOD radio, WCSY and WSJM all wrote pieces on Clean Energy Trust’s and Michigan EIBC’s Clean Jobs Midwest report.

Mlive wrote a piece on the US Green Building Council’s 2016 Michigan Battle of the Buildings.

Patricia Sharkey of the Michigan Cogeneration Association and John Dulmes of the Michigan Chemistry Council wrote an opinion column in the Lansing State Journal on the importance of CHP.

Traverse City Ticker wrote about TC Shines, Groundwork Center’s work to increase the deployment of solar in the Grand Traverse area, and how both the Cherryland Electric Cooperative and Traverse City Light & Power have discussed changing their net metering program.

Crain’s Detroit Business has a piece on James Wolter, retired GVSU professor, receiving another patent for ways to improve energy storage and distribution involving solar photovoltaic panels.

The Detroit Free Press has a story about DTE planning to deploy a 10 acre solar array in the city of Detroit.

The American Prospect has a story on the statewide debate on net metering and the true value of on-site solar power.


National Energy News

Warren Leon has an opinion article in Morning Consult about legislation in several states wither rolling back renewable standards or halting their increases.

The Hill has a piece on DOE’s work on the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project, a wind energy project in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle regions to deliver as much as 4,000 megawatts of power through a 705-mile direct current transmission line.

Morning Consult wrote about the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approving a wind research program off Virginia’s shoreline.

Utility Dive has a feature detailing how utility cooperation can drive community solar costs down 40 percent.

The Guardian reports that global investment in coal and gas now less than half of the global investment in advanced energy.

Reuters has a piece on US drillers to cut oil and gas rigs for a 14th straight week.

New York regulators have voted to increase the size of distributed generation resources to 5 MW, allowing for larger solar energy, microgrids and other distributed generation projects to connect to the electric grid.

Utility Dive has a story with 5 maps showing where action is being taken on solar policy

The DC Public Service Commission approved the Pepco-Excelon merger, making the utility the largest in the country by customer base.

Utility Dive has a piece on the Supreme Court hearing oral Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing; the courts second advanced energy related case this year.


Michigan Events
The Engineering Society of Detroit – together with DTE Energy – is hosting its annual Energy Conference and Exhibition on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.
The 4th Annual Michigan EIBC Members Meeting will take place on Wednesday, May 4 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. Registration is available here; contact Nicole Forward for sponsorship information.
The 2016 Michigan CHP Conference will be held Tuesday, May 10 at Oakland University in Rochester. The theme for this year’s conference is “Moving to Clean Energy with Combined Heat and Power: Matching CHP Customers to Suppliers.”

National Events
AWEA’s annual WINDPOWER event will take place May 23-26 in New Orleans.
Intersolar North America will take place July 12-14 in San Francisco.
Solar Power International is scheduled for September 12-15 in Las Vegas.
The Battery Show, collocated with the Critical Power Expo and Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, will be held in Novi from September 13-15.

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.