- Newsletter (395)
Welcome to the weekly newsletter of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), the business voice for advanced energy in Michigan. Here’s what’s new this week:
In ‘What’s Next’ Speech, Gov. Whitmer Calls for Actions to Enact MI Healthy Climate Plan
On Wednesday Gov. Whitmer made energy policy a centerpiece of her speech about “what’s next” for Michigan, calling for a 100% clean energy standard, steps to accelerate the permitting of renewable energy projects and an expansion of energy efficiency.
“By 2050, these actions would save Michigan families 5 and a half billion dollars in household energy costs, create 160,000 jobs and bring home 14.7 billion dollars in federal funding,” Whitmer said in her speech, citing numbers identified in a recent analysis of state-level clean energy policy by Michigan EIBC and Michigan EIBC member 5 Lakes Energy.
Whitmer urged Michiganders to recognize that environmental protection and economic growth go together, saying that “we can protect our natural resources and produce energy cheaper. We can bring supply chains home and reduce costs for families.”
The policies that Whitmer discussed in the speech as important to allow Michigan to reach the emissions reductions goals outlined in the MI Healthy Climate Plan were:
- A 100% clean energy standard. HB 4759 and SB 271 are bills introduced to the legislature that would create this standard.
- Expanding energy efficiency programs. “The cleanest cheapest energy is energy we don’t use. Actions like sealing windows, upgrading appliances or wrapping your water heater, reduce energy waste,” Whitmer said. HB 4761 and SB 273 are bills that would increase energy efficiency requirements on utilities.
- Making it easier to build wind and solar projects by permitting projects at the state level through the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). “Let’s permit clean energy projects through the MPSC. This ensures local perspectives are reflected in the planning process while also allowing us to move faster on installation,” Whitmer said. “Let’s pay the workers building these projects wages you can raise a family on.”
- Authorize the MPSC to incorporate climate and equity into its regulatory decisions. HB 4760 and SB 272 are bills that would expand the MPSC’s authority.
MPSC Unveils Proposal for Utility Metrics to Improve Reliability
Recent power outages that lasted for days for thousands of Michigan residents are just the latest example of a problem with electric reliability on the distribution grid that seems to be getting worse. Fixing the grid is an important goal for the state’s economy, as was demonstrated by a recent Local Solar 4 All report that counted economic losses from outages of $1.4 billion in 2020 and $3.5 billion in 2021.
As a way to improve grid reliability, Michigan EIBC and other groups have called for the state to adopt more “performance-based regulation” measures that would financially incentivize or penalize utilities based on how well they perform relative to reliability metrics.
This week the MPSC released a straw proposal for reliability metrics that could potentially be used to create incentives or disincentives for utilities.
One example of such a metric is the Customer Average Interruption Duration Index (CAIDI), which measures the average time for a utility to restore power following outages in a given year. CAIDI is often used to compare utilities from across the country on reliability performance by excluding outages that occur from “major event days,” such as days where major storms cause widespread outages, to account for regional weather differences. The straw proposal points out that both DTE and Consumers Energy have consistently fallen in the bottom quartile of utilities nationwide for CAIDI excluding major event days. The proposal discusses using CAIDI as the basis for giving a utility a financial incentive or penalty depending on how they perform relative to the median CAIDI from industry benchmarks.
Another metric would involve looking at the worst-performing circuits on a utility system, and then penalizing a utility if a circuit ranks in the top 10 worst for three or more years within the past five years.
“We share the public’s frustration with the number and duration of power outages, and particularly those who experience outages over and over again,” MPSC Chair Dan Scripps said in a statement. “By focusing on the places where improvement is needed most, we’re working to better connect the financial performance of the utilities with the experience of their customers. Today’s actions of offering a straw proposal that ties financial metrics to the duration of outages and the number of customers experiencing multiple outages each year is a significant step towards that goal.”
The MPSC is seeking comments from stakeholders on the proposal by Sept. 22.
I&M Is Squeezing Residential Solar Customers in Southwest Michigan, Article Says
Indiana Michigan Power’s (I&M) proposal for contracts for distributed solar customers in its service territory is making life “extremely difficult” for any I&M customer interested in installing solar panels following the utility’s arbitrary cap on distributed generation being reached, according to a new article from Energy News Network.
The article quotes Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman, who indicates that the terms of I&M’s proposal are such that the economics of a new DG system are likely to never “pencil out.”
This May, I&M told the MPSC it had hit its cap on Category 1 distributed generation systems (these systems are less than 20 kW and generally residential) and would not accept new customers as of May 15. Rather than eliminating the cap or at least expanding it, I&M is using a commercial/industrial cogeneration tariff which requires a 5-year contract and only compensates energy sent back to the grid at the wholesale rate. Michigan EIBC filed comments in July explaining why this tariff is unfair and unreasonable for rooftop solar customers. As Sherman says in the Energy News Network article, Michigan EIBC argues that customers should be allowed to participate in I&M’s DG program while the current rate case is being debated.
The article also quotes Mike Westcott, development manager of Michigan EIBC member Harvest Solar, and Adam Schaller, vice president of Michigan EIBC member Lakeshore Die Casting. Westcott said that his company would “continue to prioritize other regions that have more favorable” conditions for solar if I&M’s decision is not reversed. Schaller talked about how his company has experience negotiating the cogeneration contracts that I&M now expects residential DG customers to sign, and how these contracts are very complicated. “It doesn’t make any economic sense for projects smaller than about 500 kW, and it is hard for the utility and customers to manage,” Schaller said.
Tickets Available for the 11th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala in Detroit on Sept. 27
Michigan EIBC is excited to welcome our members, Michigan legislators and state officials, and the general public to our 11th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on September 27th at The Eastern in Detroit. Gala is a wonderful opportunity to network with colleagues, policymakers, and industry experts, all while celebrating the individuals and businesses who succeeded in growing Michigan’s advanced energy sector. For more event information and to purchase tickets, click here.
The keynote speaker will be Shalanda Baker, Director, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to her appointment, she was a Professor of Law, Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. She was the co-founder and co-director of the Initiative for Energy Justice, which provides technical law and policy support to communities on the front lines of climate change. Baker served as an Air Force officer prior to her honorable discharge pursuant to the then existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and became a vocal advocate for repeal of the policy. She earned a B.S. in Political Science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from Northeastern University, and L.L.M. from the University of Wisconsin.
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The Watt Level (Sold Out)
Michigan Energy News
- The proposal to permit clean energy projects through the MPSC “will make sure that the best projects move forward and benefit those local communities, benefit the entire state, make sure that we’re able to meet our electricity needs in a cost effective manner while avoiding some of the really contentious local fights that end up pitting neighbors against neighbors and outside groups versus local officials,” Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman is quoted as saying in an article from Gongwer.
- Michigan Radio speaks to state Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Consumers Energy CEO Gary Rochow about how to improve electric reliability in the state.
- The provision in DTE’s integrated resource plan settlement that requires more funding disclosures could “shine a light” on the utility’s use of dark money, Tom Perkins reports in Energy News Network.
- A clean energy standard would “single-handedly put Michigan over three-quarters of the way to its 2030 climate goal,” according to RMI.
- The MI Healthy Climate Corps will launch next January, EGLE announces.
National Energy News
- While the growth in private investment in clean energy spurred by the IRA has been undoubtedly beneficial, “the newfound ambition to build a clean energy economy by mid-century has exposed foundational flaws in approving and connecting energy projects that, if not addressed soon, will make this goal impossible,” American Clean Power Association CEO Jason Grumet writes.
- Two virtual power plants consisting of residential Tesla Powerwall batteries will participate in the wholesale electricity market in Texas, a feat described by the company as a “milestone.”
- Kentucky regulators reject a 250-MW power supply contract proposed by an American Electric Power utility subsidiary for a cryptocurrency mining operation, saying that the contract would unnecessarily increase power costs for other utility customers.
- The U.S. Department of Energy plans to offer $15.5 billion to automakers to help them convert domestic manufacturing to produce EVs.
- By 2030, prices for solar could fall by half and for wind they could fall by a quarter due to technology improvements, according to a recent report from RMI.
Attention Michigan EIBC members: if you have a job announcement you would like in the newsletter, please send a paragraph describing the position and a link to apply to Matt Bandyk at email@example.com. Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.
Advanced Energy United
Advanced Energy United is currently seeking a highly energetic, smart, self-starting Policy Principal with a background in regulatory engagement, issue advocacy, and coalition building to join United’s policy and campaign team in the West. The Principal will work collaboratively with United’s state teams to craft and execute creative policy campaigns that will achieve successful state regulatory action to accelerate the energy transition and expand markets for the advanced energy industry. Policy topics may include distributed energy resources, transmission and interconnection, resource planning, future of gas and building decarbonization, transportation electrification, western regional market formation, and utility business model reform. The Principal will also work under the direction of United’s western regulatory Policy Director to build out United’s regulatory presence and strengthen relationships with decision-makers in western states. Candidates will need to have the ability to travel to meet with United members, coalition allies and stakeholders, and public officials.
Cultivate Power is seeking a Director of Community Partnerships & Investment. This person will help originate, develop and foster community partnership and investment opportunities in the host communities and regions where Cultivate Power develops distributed energy projects. Additionally, the Director will work to build systems and standardized processes for engaging communities on every project. This is a unique role with the opportunity for the Director to drive industry-leading impact to create greater inclusion, equity and benefit to communities through innovation and creation of new programs and partnerships. The Director will report directly to one of the Managing Directors and co-founders of Cultivate Power.
Michigan and National Energy Events
The Battery Show North America 2023 is taking place Sept. 12-14 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Register here.
Tickets are available for the 11th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on Sept. 27 at The Eastern in Detroit.
Applications for the 1 Hotels Fellowship at Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) are now open. 1 Hotels Fellows will work in partnership with NRDC’s E2 program to identify pressing environmental issues and needs across the country, and then organize and execute projects that help communicate and amplify the business and economic case for smart policies to address these issues. Applications are due by Sept. 5.
Consumers Energy plans to issue a RFP for solar generation projects in accordance with the company’s Proposed Course of Action in its Integrated Resource Plan. This forthcoming RFP is separate and distinct from the ongoing Consumers Energy 2023 VGP RFP for Wind and Solar generation projects.Enel X anticipates formally releasing the upcoming RFP and associated documents in October 2023.
The Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity (LEO) has two job openings: Director of Mobility Policy, who will be an advisor to LEO and serve as the lead policy staffer for the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, and Policy Director, who will cover a broad portfolio of issues across the entire department including workforce development, economic mobility and workplace rights and safety.
Organizations currently have the opportunity to work with a grad student from the University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability (SEAS) for their Master’s Projects. In these projects, “students work on research teams with client organizations and faculty advisors to address complex environmental issues and design innovative, impactful products,” according to SEAS. Learn more here. Proposals for projects are due by September.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to expand the weatherization assistance program utilizing bipartisan infrastructure law funding for multi-family dwellings. The five-month award begins on May 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2023, with the total available amount being $1 million dollars. Successful applicants may be awarded funding annually through at least Sept. 30, 2028, based upon funding availability and acceptable performance. For more information or to apply, visit the EGrAMS website.
The City of Detroit has issued a Request for Information seeking feedback on the number and type of projects that would best achieve the goal of generating enough renewable energy to power municipal operations and buildings with locally generated and City-owned solar power. Find more information here. Responses are due Oct. 2.