Newsletter: House Energy Committee Holds Hearing on Advanced Mobility, Chart House Energy Builds Low-Income Solar Training Program

This newsletter was originally published on March 20, 2018.

House Energy Committee Holds Hearing on Advanced Mobility

On Tuesday, March 13, the House Energy Committee, chaired by Representative Gary Glenn, held a hearing on advanced mobility. The hearing opened with introductory remarks from Rep. Bellino, who organized the hearing, Rep. Cole, chair of the House Transportation Committee, and Michigan EIBC president Liesl Clark.

Clark provided the committee with overview comments regarding the convergence of vehicle electrification and automation. Autonomous vehicles require electricity to power their telecommunication and data management features, and electric drivetrains offer additional advantages in acceleration and deceleration for connected and self-driving vehicles. Because of this, it is easier for computers to drive EVs that have fewer moving parts and in EVs, the main components – battery, inverter, and electric motor – more easily communicate with each other. Because of Michigan’s leadership in the automotive industry and the advanced battery industry, Michigan is well suited to lead the future of mobility.

After this introduction, Commissioner Norm Saari of the Michigan Public Service Commission described the importance of determining the regulatory and utility role in a more electrified mobility future. He also discussed the Commission’s ongoing efforts around EVs, including holding two technical conferences since August of last year. As part of the Commission’s process, Michigan EIBC organized 17 companies and organizations to sign on to joint principles including 1) transportation electrification is in the public interest, 2) transportation electrification in Michigan lagging and barriers need to be addressed, and 3) electric utilities are uniquely suited to play a role in addressing these barriers.

Next, John Viera of Ford discussed automaker efforts around electric and autonomous vehicles. Viera gave an overview of Ford’s approach to infrastructure, including encouraging public and workplace charging. Viera highlighted Ford’s $11 billion investment in electrification that will support the company’s work in the space. Viera also responded to concerns that EV rollout would be too expensive by explaining that battery costs continue to decline. This downward trend is expected to continue, but government and regulatory policies are needed to make these vehicles more affordable for customers.

Then, Camilo Serna of DTE Electric followed with an overview of the utilities’ plans for programs to support EV infrastructure and improve customer awareness. Serna explained that EV customers actually save money through lower electricity costs and fewer vehicle maintenance requirements. DTE and Consumers Energy both offer EV rates that make it cheaper for customers to charge their vehicles when demand is lower. Serna highlighted some of DTE’s planned pilot programs to help grow EV demand, including a load management program, charging showcase program, and a network of corridor fast-chargers for long-distance travelers.

The House Energy Committee is planning a second hearing on this issue to be announced at a future date.

For those interested in this topic, Michigan EIBC is hosting a series of EV Convenings to bring together automakers, utilities, government agencies, Michigan companies, and other interested parties to discuss complex issues including education and promotion, fast charging, long-dwell charging, and fleet deployment. The next EV Convening, on education and promotion, is on March 22. Email if you would like to be involved!


Member Highlight: Chart House Energy Builds Low-Income Solar Training Program

2017 was the first year that renewable energy electrical generation jobs exceeded fossil fuel and nuclear electrical energy jobs combined. The clean energy sector is among the fastest growing sectors in the Midwest, supporting 599,775 jobs including more than 92,000 in Michigan. Solar jobs are growing at a rate that is almost 3 times the average job growth rate. Michigan EIBC companies, like Chart House Energy, are working to create these jobs and make sure that they are available to members of  financially-disadvantaged communities in Michigan.

The City of Ypsilanti, MI recently approached Rob Rafson of Chart House Energy to collaborate on the SunShot Solar In Your Community Challenge. Rafson proposed a training program that would give low-income residents the technical skills, safety training, and experience needed to work on residential, community, and utility-scale solar projects.

In addition to the City of Ypsilanti, Chart House Energy is partnering with the Ypsilanti Housing Commission and Solar Ypsi on the program. Just last week, the trainees completed their first round of training and completed a solar installation on the roof of Community Center in the housing project where they lived.

The workers in the program range from 22 to 60 years of age, and in construction experience from none to a lifetime. The program is making a huge impact, not just on their lives, but on their community as well. Rafson believes “the jobs created in the solar business can not only be good jobs, but can be transformative to the communities that they’re in.” By targeting low- to moderate-income residents, this program not only gives the trainees a new job opportunity but gives the community hope.

For example, one 22-year-old trainee who was the desperate for upward mobility was offered a highly competitive apprenticeship with an electrician because of his work in the program.

Rafson is hoping that Michigan EIBC member companies will consider these solar laborers for living wage entry level positions. Companies with entry level job postings can share those opportunities with



New Members

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Michigan Energy Stories

  • FERC approve a plan to refund Michigan ratepayers $24.6 million in overcharges related to keeping a coal plant open in the Upper Peninsula. 
  • The City of Grand Haven postponed a decision on a special assessment to bury a section of transmission lines. 
  • NOVI Energy is looking at Rives Township for a potential natural gas fired power plant, but some residents are opposed to the idea.
  • According to Chuck Lippstreu of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, energy efficiency programs are paying off in Michigan.
  • A Detroit News columnist from the Mackinac Center argues that the Clean Energy Healthy Michigan ballot initiative, which would require 30% renewable energy by 2030, restricts choice.

Michigan Energy Leaders

  • Ferndale Mayor David Coulter joined the “Climate Mayors” in supporting clean power.
  • Fifth-Third Bank is aiming for 100% renewable energy in 2018 by partnering on a solar power facility.
  • General Motors and Switch will match 100% of their electricity use with wind energy as the first participants in a Consumers Energy program to support corporations’ use of renewable energy.
  • Little Caesars Arena will ‘go green’ with DTE Energy sponsorship.


National Energy Stories

  • President Trump signed an order to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports but agreed to exempt Canada and Mexico for now. Some Senate Republicans are considering legislation to block the tariffs, which have drawn criticism from many GOP lawmakers, and, Gary Cohn, a staunch free-trade proponent, expressed that he would resign as Trump’s economic adviser over the tariffs.
  • The White House is setting up a meeting on Monday with government officials and executives from the corn and oil industries to discuss potential changes to the nation’s biofuels policy.
  • Senate Democrats release an infrastructure plan that includes $80 billion for grid upgrades, but it’s unlikely to gain traction in Congress.
  • Lawmakers voice concern about a House committee report that found Russia used social media to sow discord in the U.S. over pipelines, fossil fuels and climate change.
  • Grid operators respond to a FERC order to examine the “resilience” of their transmission networks against superstorms, cyberattacks or other potentially destabilizing threats.
  • A coalition representing utilities and renewable energy providers gave FERC five priorities for wholesale electricity market reforms.
  • A new FERC rule that opens wholesale markets to energy storage could help the market grow to 50 GW over the next decade, but that will depend on state policies, according to a new report.
  • A FERC commissioner says the rapid adoption of renewable energy in states like California and New York will increase the risk of power outages and pose “a very big challenge.”
  • President Trump nominated an attorney for Dow Chemical to lead the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, which is responsible for emergency response operations and highly contaminated Superfund sites.
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry tells conference-goers the global shift away from fossil fuels is “immoral.”
  • Large utilities recognize clean energy makes good business sense.
  • Most investor-owned utilities across the Midwest have made clean energy pledges that go above and beyond what’s required by state law, but the commitments aren’t binding and lack urgency, critics say.

National Energy Leaders


Michigan Energy Events 

IPU MSU has announced the dates for the IPU Grid School: April 9-12 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing, Michigan. Register here.

Michigan EIBC’s 6th Annual Member Meeting is scheduled for April 30 in Lansing, followed by a Lobby Day on May 1. Mark your calendars, and register here to reserve your spot at the Annual Member Meeting today.

Michigan EIBC will host a Michigan Energy Forum on energy efficiency and lighting on June 11 at member company CLEAResult’s office in Detroit. Stay tuned for details!

On July 17-19, PlugVolt will be hosting its next Battery Seminar in Plymouth, Michigan (USA), featuring an entire day of in-depth training by EnerDelon Lithium Ion technology, alongside complementary industry updates by automotive and grid storage OEMs, global battery manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers. Attendees also get a tour of Intertek’s Battery Testing Center. Register here.


National Energy Events   

EUCI is hosting two courses on smart metering: Smart Metering 101 and Advanced Smart Meeting courses on March 19 and March 20, respectively.

EUCI invites you to its event, “Capital Planning for Grid Modernization: Building the Grid of Tomorrow,” April 3, in Denver, Colorado. Register here.

ACI invites you to “Microgrids East 2018,” on April 11-12 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant Fundamentals conference on April 18 – 19 in Portland, Oregon. Register here.

AWEA invites you to the Powering Forward conference May 7-10 in Chicago, Illinois. The conference, entitled WINDPOWER, will create an opportunity for the industry comes together to plan for the future and keep this success story growing. Register here.

EUCI invites you to “Blockchain Technology for the Energy Sector” May 8-9 in Houston, Texas. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the 2018 Residential Demand Charges Conference, May 15-16 in Nashville, Tennessee. Register here.

Join ACI in San Francisco on June 6-7 for Grid-Scale Storage 2018 and learn through different panel discussions, site tours, workshops, and presentations on the significant market opportunities for energy storage. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the Leadership Conference for Women in Energy 2018 on June 4-5 in St. Louis, Missouri. Register here.

You’re invited to present, advertise, exhibit, or sponsor at The Energy Fair, June 15-17 in Custer, Wisconsin. Learn more and register here.

You’re invited to the EV Roadmap 11, June 19-20 in Portland, Oregon. Register here.

You’re invited to the Grid Evolution Summit hosted by Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), in Washington, D.C., July 9-12. Register here.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) invite you to Solar Power International, September 24-27, in Anaheim, California. Registration opens in spring of 2018 here.


Announcements and Opportunities

The Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) today said there’s still time for Michigan students in grades six to 12 to participate in the My Solar School contest. To enter, student teams must submit, by March 30, a study for installing a solar system at their school, along with a short video outlining their vision. Visit the My Solar Schools website for more information.

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings is April 18. Join the awards and recognition program for energy use reduction today! The competition is open to all Michigan area commercial, industrial, non-profit, educational institutions & multi-family buildings. Any building type except single family residential. Registration ends March 31.

Nominations are now being accepted for the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards to honor Michigan organizations and individuals for their commitment to responsible energy production and consumption. The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards celebrate outstanding achievements by recognizing people and organizations that have taken firm, meaningful actions to stop energy waste. Last year, energy solutions honored at the awards ranged from installing energy-efficient, state-of-the-art heating, cooling and lighting systems to common-sense, lower-cost steps like caulking windows and adding insulation. Nominations can be submitted online at through March 31 with winners to be announced at a celebration in the fall.