- Newsletter (385)
This newsletter was originally published on May 3, 2017.
Election Results: Voters Deal Setback to Thumb-Area Wind Proposals
Voters in Huron, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties in the Thumb yesterday sent a message of opposition to the development of a series of proposed wind projects. In Huron County, voters soundly rejected a measure that would have allowed a NextEra project to go forward in Sherman and Sigel townships (by a vote of 1934 to 1120) and also opposed a DTE project in Bloomfield, Dwight, Lincoln, and Sigel townships (by a vote of 1923 to 1110). Voters in Sand Beach Township, meanwhile, approved changes to the township’s Wind Energy Conversion Facility Overlay Zoning Ordinance that will effectively block future wind development in the township. That vote was 413-80.
The results were no better in Sanilac or Tuscola County. In Sanilac County, by a vote of 137-120, voters in Marlette Township approved a zoning amendment that will impede additional wind development in the township. The new ordinance increases set backs to 125% of tower height, as well as increasing the set backs from property lines, and increasing setbacks from inhabited structures to 1400 feet. The previous ordinance had set backs equal to the tower height. Finally, voters in Almer Township in Tuscola County rejected a NextEra-backed measure that would have relaxed some zoning requirements by a vote of 287-234. Almer Township Supervisor Jim Mantey was recently quoted as saying that “the current ordinance isn’t convenient for the amount of turbines that the developers wanted in our township.”
Federal Budget Deal Largely Preserves Funding for Key Energy Programs
A compromise deal reached over the weekend to keep the federal government open through September 30 largely maintained funding for key energy programs, even as President Trump continues to push for significant reductions in the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Under the bipartisan agreement, funding for energy programs at DOE increases $257 million over 2016, to a total of $11.28 billion. Funding for renewable energy programs, received $808 million than requested by former President Obama, though still saw a $21 million increase over 2016 funding levels. Research and development funding to improve grid security against cyberattacks and extreme weather events was increased by $24 million over 2016 levels. Notably, the advanced research projects agency-energy (ARPA-E), which has been slated for elimination by the current Administration, actually saw a 5.2% increase to $306 million, though last week DOE put a freeze on ARPA-E contracts. The budget for EPA is reduced by $81.4 million to a total funding level of $8.06 billion. This represents a cut of approximately 1% – as opposed to the Administration’s proposal to reduce funding to the EPA by nearly a third – and does not include any staff reductions.
Coming Next Week: Tour Covanta Kent with Michigan EIBC
The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council invites members to attend our upcoming Michigan Energy Forum networking meeting and tour at Covanta Kent on May 10 in Grand Rapids. This energy-from-waste facility has been in operation for approximately 27 years. Attendees will watch a brief overview video created by Kent County about the waste system, followed by a tour of the facility, including stops at the tipping floor/refuse pit and the control room. Environmental Specialist Terry Madden will conduct the tour along with Business Manager Matt Marler.
RSVP today to join us for this exciting event!
Growth Capital Network manages education and development programs for the innovation and entrepreneurial community. This has included the million-dollar Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (AMIC), researcher education for Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program (M-TRAC) and the Midwest Green Technology Entrepreneur Academy (MI-GTEA). GCN also provides analytical and evaluative services to measure the impact of entrepreneurial and innovation programs for the foundation and non-profit community.
Michigan Energy News:
- Greening of the Great Lakes extensively covered last week’s Michigan EIBC Annual Member Meeting. Click here to hear full conversations with Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark, DTE Electric President Trevor Lauer, Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers, and Ed Straub of the American Center for Mobiility.
Michigan solar companies are now optimistic after a year of uncertainty
- According to advanced energy advocates, a shortage of public charging stations is hurting the growth of electric cars in Michigan. At the same time, Tesla announced plans to expand its network of charging stations in Michigan.
- Multiple Midwest utilities, including DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, filed a joint request for grid operator MISO to create a model for energy storage’s place in the market.
- Michigan State University researchers found that most farmers were not interested in renting unused land for growing crops for biofuels.
- Residents of Grosse Pointe Woods are allowed to return home after a major gas leak forced them out.
- Consumers Energy has selected Forsite Development firm to demolish and redevelop two coal-fired power plants, J.R. Whiting Generating Complex and B.C. Cobb. Last week, Consumers Energy filed a request with the Michigan Public Service Commission seeking approval to have Forsite acquire the two sites.
An advocacy group is providing solar-powered street lighting to residents and businesses in Metro Detroit.
- DTE Energy is suing the State of Michigan, arguing that the state wrongly denied the company a refund of nearly $20 million in use taxes it paid.
- Here are more updates on the new geothermal system being installed at the Michigan Capitol.
- The Public Service Commission approved a temporary billing practices waiver for DTE Energy (case U-18343), in which the company will notify about 5,800 electric and gas customers they will receive a rebill statement after DTE switched to a new billing process.
- The Marquette Board of Light and Power will move towards updating solar and reducing emissions this summer.
- An environmental attorney questions why Michigan-based DTE Energy is still interested in plans for a new nuclear plant amid unfavorable economics across the region. Meanwhile, federal nuclear regulators denied a citizens’ group request to reopen licensing proceedings over concerns about a southeast Michigan nuclear plant.
National Energy News:
- President Trump tapped Dan Simmons as Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Simmons, who previously worked for the Institute for Energy Research and the American Legislative Exchange Council, is known as a renewable energy skeptic. It is unclear whether Simmons will be formally nominated as Assistant Secretary, a move that would require Senate confirmation. In his budget proposal, President Trump proposed to reduce EERE’s budget by 53%.
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Colette Honorable announced she would be leaving the Commission when her term expires at the end of June. Commissioner Honorable is currently one of just two Commissioners on the five-member FERC, a situation that has prevented the Commission from actions requiring a quorum.
- Some solar advocates fear that the tax reforms being promoted by the Trump Administration could threaten solar industry financing.
- A group of U.S. senators introduced legislation to end the country’s fossil fuels use by 2050 by requiring vehicles to release zero carbon emissions, establishing “climate bonds,” and barring federal pipeline approvals.
- Over 1,000 U.S. companies sent a letter urging Congress to preserve the Energy Star program following President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the program.
- A New York Times report finds that most new energy jobs are in solar, not coal.
- Tech and finance leaders urged Indiana’s governor to veto a controversial solar bill that would end the Hoosier State’s net metering program.
- Strata Solar will fill hundreds of job openings in Virginia with military veterans.
- Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy recently broke grounds on a new solar project at a former New York golf course.
- New rules developed for the PJM market that require power producers to ensure supplies are available all year round may create an incentive to use more wind.
Pattern Energy bought a 324 MW New Mexico wind power project.
- A South Dakota county agrees to back down back down on some restrictive wind siting proposals after negotiations with major renewable energy developers.
- One of the pioneering biomass facilities in Minnesota may shut down.
- Advanced energy leaders worry nuclear subsidies risk flooding the grid and driving down demand for solar and wind.
- A California Senate committee passed a bill that would require utilities to create rebate programs for customers who install energy-storage systems.
- A Missouri utility is partnering with a Swedish private equity firm on an energy storage pilot project.
- A Colorado utility has developed a plan to charge its customers different rates during peak hours and expand community solar farms to prevent net metering problems.
- Advocates say AEP Ohio’s plan to increase monthly fixed fees would disproportionately impact low-income residents. However, the utility says variable cost decreases will protect low-income customers.
- Apple has signed power purchase agreements for two major advanced energy projects in Oregon.
- President Trump continues to express his support of ethanol.
- The elimination of tax credits for electric vehicles are expected to threaten cheaper classes of EVs.
Michigan Energy Events:
The 2017 Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition, hosted by DTE Energy and the Engineering Society of Detroit, will take place May 9 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. The conference is now accepting proposals for presentations on topics related to energy efficiency.
The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council’s Michigan Energy Forum is scheduled for May 10 in Grand Rapids. This networking meeting will consist of a tour of Covanta Kent, an energy-from-waste facility has been in operation for approximately 27 years. Attendees will watch a brief overview video created by Kent County about the waste system, followed by a tour of the facility, including stops at the tipping floor/refuse pit and the control room. Environmental Specialist Terry Madden will conduct the tour along with Business Manager Matt Marler. For more information or to RSVP, click here.
The Michigan Public Service Commission 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Energy Events:
GTM’s annual Solar Summit is scheduled for May 16-18, and GTM is offering 15% off tickets with the code MWENERGY15.
The annual AWEA Windpower Conference is taking place May 22-25 in Anaheim, CA. The marquee event for the US wind industry returns with top-tier speakers, world-class education, cutting edge technology, and premium marketing.
TRC is hosting a two-day conference on Developing Solar on Landfills and Brownfields on June 12-13 in Chicago. The event brings together landowners, who will learn about how to turn their brownfield liabilities into clean energy assets, while solar developers will learn how to choose and develop on brownfields.
Greentech Media’s Grid Edge World Forum 2017 will be held in San Jose, CA on June 27-29. As the only conference exclusively focused on emerging distributed energy system, this event highlights the trends, opportunities, and innovation happening at the grid edge.
A web page 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 michigan.gov/energylegislation.
The Michigan Energy Office (MEO), in partnership with the States of Tennessee, Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, the National Association of State Energy Officials, and The Climate Registry, is inviting interested parties to comment on the National Energy Efficiency Registry (NEER) Principles & Operating Rules, which are open for public comment until May 31, 2017. Information on the NEER can be found at NEERegistry.org, as well as a FAQ document and description of sample NEER user scenarios.