Newsletter: Is 2017 the Tipping Point for Batteries and EVs?

This newsletter was originally published on February 3, 2017.

Is 2017 the Tipping Point for Batteries and EVs?

Three grid-scale battery projects went live this week – any one of which would have been the largest ever built! Together, the projects from AES Corp., Altagas Ltd., and Tesla represent 15% of the global battery storage installed in 2016. The growth in battery storage is being driven by a combination of steep price declines – lithium-ion battery prices have dropped by 50% since 2014! – and a push to integrate more storage to enhance overall grid reliability. California, for example, is requiring the deployment of 1.32 GW of battery storage by 2020 – a total that is more than 35% higher that total global storage deployment in 2016.

While AES’s 30 MW/ 120 MWh project is the largest of the bunch – the fifth time AES has been involved in the largest ever project – it is Tesla’s 20 MW/ 80 MWh project for Southern California Edison that attracted the most attention, in part because the project was installed in just 88 days in order to address reliability concerns stemming from the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak.

Other companies are also increasingly active as well, with Michigan EIBC member Siemens partnering with battery start-up Eos on a new zinc hybrid cathode technology that it is selling at $160/ kWh, plus the cost of inverters and installation. In Hawaii, the battery company Stem debuted a pilot program of 29 business-sited systems that are providing behind-the-meter applications to help smooth out the intermittency of solar and assist customers with demand response. This is part of a larger trend that could see behind-the-meter storage applications making up 50% of the market by 2021 – up from just 15% today.

Finally, new research suggests we could also be at an inflection point for electric vehicles, with the build out of broad-based charging infrastructure, the rise of “mobility as a service,” and continuing cost declines leading some to describe 2017 as “the year of the electric car.” With the unveiling of the new Chevy Bolt – hailed as as a “game changer” and a “milestone in the worldwide electric vehicle wave” – it seems that EVs are poised for exponential growth, and the emergence of EVs as a potential grid asset has been described as one of the “electricity innovation to watch” in 2017.

With Michigan home to a global cluster of energy storage companies – including Michigan EIBC members Advanced Battery Concepts, Inmatech, Navitas Systems, and Sakti3, as well as many others – as well as Michigan’s leadership in the manufacture of electric vehicles and on mobility issues, this convergence between the electricity system, batteries, electric vehicles, and mobility plays can offer new markets for Michigan companies – and a stronger, more cost-effective grid and new transportation options for consumers and ratepayers.


New/ Renewing Members





Abundant Solar
Abundant Solar Energy Inc. is a solar developer who has developed and constructed a solar portfolio in Ontario Canada with a completion value of $180 Million Dollars. Abundant is currently developing Community Solar projects in New York State, Maryland and Washington DC. in addition to seeking additional states where Community Solar is permitted.






Detroit Stoker Company
Detroit Stoker Company is a leading supplier of combustion systems for the production of steam used in heating, industrial processing, and electric power generation around the world. In addition to providing dependable power, the company has taken a leadership role in the development of environmentally responsible systems that make power generating plants good neighbors in their communities. Detroit Stoker also leads the way in unlocking the value of renewable energy sources. Recycling and reduction of industrial and municipal solid waste as renewable fuels are both cost-effective and environmentally-friendly. Every day, more than 140,000 tons of biomass and refuse are burned on Detroit stokers, the largest of which produces more than 100 MWe. The company’s combustion systems generate power from diverse waste products such as bark, sugar cane, sawdust, sunflower hulls and poultry litter. These otherwise non-recyclable materials produce insignificant levels of acid gas compared to the fossil fuels they replace and are considered CO2-neutral because the carbon dioxide produced is used in the growth cycle of renewable fuel sources. As the costs of conventional fuels rise, renewable fuels provide a sensible alternative.







Founded 106 years ago in Detroit, McNaughton-McKay has been at the forefront of energy innovation for over a century. As a wholesale distributor of electric supplies, they are active in five states and the 13th largest distributor of electrical supplies in the US. A key part of the logistics chain for solar, they keep an inventory of $250,000​ to $500,000 in solar energy equipment to support local installers with volume pricing, free delivery and warranty assistance, lowering costs and removing barriers to advanced energy. With branches in Ann Arbor, Madison Heights, Flint and Saginaw, they provide services to make renewable energy installations more​ attainable for residents and businesses throughout Michigan.




Oak Electric
In more than 40 years of serving residential, commercial and industrial customers, Waterford, Michigan-based Oak Electric Service has earned a reputation as one of Southeast Michigan’s leading electrical and renewable energy contractors. As a “full-service” electrical contracting company, and a DTE Energy “preferred vendor,” we bring our customers peace of mind when it comes to keeping things running smoothly, safely and efficiently at their homes and businesses. This means that we offer the complete range of electrical system services—troubleshooting, repair, replacement and maintenance—from experienced, licensed electricians.





Sempra U.S. Gas & Power
Sempra U. S. Gas & Power is a leading developer of clean energy solutions throughout the United States. The company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, a Fortune 500 energy holding company based in San Diego, California. Sempra U.S. Gas & Power is the developer, owner and future operator of Apple Blossom Wind, a 78-megawatt wind facility in Huron County. The company has more than 2,000 megawatts of wind and solar generation in the United States.





TraverseCONNECT is an ​enterprise that includes the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, Venture North Funding and Development (EDO), and an entrepreneurial development division. It operates locally, regionally, and statewide to grow business and build community.





Ventower Industries
Ventower Industries ™ is a leading North American steel fabricator currently specializing in utility-scale wind turbine tower solutions. We have diversified our product offerings to include large steel structures like embedded inserts, pressure vessels, marine foundations and welded tanks. Our experienced team of highly skilled and certified fabrication workers manufacture to the highest quality standards and are committed to continuous improvement while achieving key quality objectives and insuring best practice manufacturing.


Michigan Energy News

The City of Grand Rapids is planning a $21 million methane digester to handle waste from Founders Brewing Company, Amway, and others. The project eliminates the need for a $90 million expansion at the City’s wastewater treatment plant, and will provide enough electricity to power 60% of the plant’s needs. In addition, additional gas could be used in CHP applications or compressed for The Rapid bus service’s planned CNG buses.

A report released this week from the Michigan Agency for Energy and the Michigan Public Service Commission finds that resource adequacy can be maintained in the Lower Peninsula through the summer of 2018 based on current projects in development, though additional resources would also be appropriate. In addition to additional generation resources, the report also highlights the role demand response can play in meeting Michigan’s energy needs, finding that “additional demand response programs would be the most cost-effective way to fill any gap.” The report, which was called for following the fire at DTE’s St. Clair Power Plant in August, examined whether Michigan could keep the lights on during a summer peak scenario with two nuclear plants unexpectedly offline, as happened in 2012.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) this week rejected the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (MISO) Forward Capacity Market proposal. FERC determined that bifurcating the three-year forward capacity auction that would serve areas within MISO that offer retail competition from the year-ahead planning reserve auction to meet the incremental capacity needs for vertically integrated utilities could cause prices to diverge “even when such divergence is not supported by underlying supply and demand fundamentals” and could also lead “to improper or inefficient allocations” of transmission capacity across the MISO footprint.

The Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corporation (UMERC) filed a Certificate of Necessity application with the Michigan Public Service Commission to build a pair of natural gas plants in the Upper Peninsula. The plants, which would cost $277 million and have a combined capacity of 183 MW, are planned to be operational by 2020, and would allow for the retirement of the Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette.

The Michigan Public Service Commission this week authorized DTE Energy to increase its rates by $184 million to fund upgrades in its distribution system. The increase was below the $344 million increase sought by DTE, and also below the $245 million the utility self-implemented in August, resulting in a refund to DTE customers.

Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark was quoted in a Midwest Energy News story looking at whether the installation of a solar project is consistent with the state’s farmland preservation program.

Marquette Area Public Schools hosted a Solar Day on Monday to educate students on the benefits of solar energy. Rep. Scott Dianda, who sits on the House Energy Policy Committee, was a featured guest.

Nominations are now open for the 2017 Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, which recognize energy efficiency projects completed in 2016. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2017.


National Energy News

Ford Motor Company touted a range of mobility solutions in a 90-second Super Bowl ad that ran before kickoff. The ad focused on ride sharing, EVs, bike sharing, and self-driving cars as part of a focus on mobility solutions discussed by Executive Chairman Bill Ford during the NAIAS.

An article in Power Magazine highlights the surge of innovation in combined-heat-and-power and district energy systems, describing the changes as CHP 2.0.

Annual spending on transmission infrastructure could grow by $10 billion globally over the next decade to integrate large-scale renewable energy projects, according to a new report from Navigant Research. The report suggests global annual transmission spending could climb from $36.7 billion in 2016 to $46.7 billion by 2025.  

Following its acquisition of SolarCity, Tesla Motors announced this week it was changing its name to simply Tesla, Inc. In addition, there are reports that the SolarCity brand will soon disappear altogether, with the PV systems and new “Solar Roof” being marketed under the Tesla name.

Mississippi Power Company announced this week that it’s $7.1 billion Kemper carbon capture coal plant is producing electricity. The project, which was two years and more than $4 billion over budget, will achieve full commercial operation later this month.

As part of its rollout of 900,000 smart meters, AEP Ohio is providing residential and small business customers a way of getting their energy data through the Green Button download.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted Tuesday to advance the nominations of Rick Perry and Congressman Ryan Zinke to lead the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior, respectively.  Meanwhile, after a delay and a rule change to overcome a Democratic boycott, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to advance the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as EPA Administrator.

At his hearing to serve as the next Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin expressed his support for the planned phase-out of the ITC and PTC, a move that brought comfort to many renewable energy developers and won the support of wind proponents such as Senator Charles Gassley (R-Iowa).

Two Hawaii utilities are teaming up with Nissan to offer rebates of up to $10,000 towards the purchase of the all-electric Nissan Leaf. This follows a similar program offered last year in Kansas that brought the cost of a new Leaf to less than $12,000.

Legislation introduced in the Indiana Senate would force customers who install solar panels on their homes to sell all their electricity to their utility at the wholesale rate, and then buy it back at the retail rate.

Add Home Depot to the ranks of companies powering operations with renewable energy, as the company signed its first contract for wind power, purchasing 50 MW of capacity in a Texas wind farm being developed by EDP Renewables North America. Meanwhile, PepsiCo became the latest global company to sign onto the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles.

Siemens AG, the parent company of Michigan EIBC member Siemens USA, boosted its earnings outlook, largely based on a doubling of profit in its renewable energy businesses and a 60% increase in profit in a venture involving electric vehicles.

The Maryland legislature voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that will increase Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 25% by 2020.

A U.S. Department of Energy Jobs Report finds that there are five times as many Americans working in clean energy as work in the fossil fuel industry – and that the job creation in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and advanced vehicles continues to climb.

Michigan EIBC member Schneider Electric is teaming up with Duke Renewable Energy to build a pair of microgrids to serve the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Safety Headquarters and Correctional Facility. Once operational, the microgrids will produce 7.4 million kWh of combined heat and power, and another 3.3 million kWh of solar each year.


Michigan Energy Events
Michigan EIBC is hosting a Michigan Energy Forum event on Monday, February 6 at the Varnum Law offices in Grand Rapids. This event will feature a recap of the recently enacted energy legislation, details from the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission report, and top-level networking opportunities.

The 2017 UP Energy Summit will take place on Thursday, February 16 at the Don H. Bottom University Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Following the UP Energy Summit, Advancing Women in Energy is hosting a networking reception from 4-6PM on Thursday, February 16, also at the NMU University Center in Marquette.

The Institute of Public Utilities is hosting its annual Michigan Forum on Economic Regulatory Policy on Friday, February 24 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum is hosting its annual Catalyst Conference on Monday, February 27 at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing. Rep. Gary Glenn, Chair of the House Energy Policy Committee, is the keynote speaker.

The Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association is hosting its 2017 Annual Gala on Thursday, March 2 in East Lansing. Tickets and more information are available here.

The 2017 Powering Michigan Agriculture Conference is taking place on Thursday, March 9 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing

The Institute of Public Utilities will host Grid School 2017 from March 27-30 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

SAVE THE DATE: Michigan EIBC’s 5th Annual Member Meeting will take place on Wednesay, April 12 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. Additional details, sponsorship opportunities, and registration will be available shortly.

The Michigan Geothermal Energy Association is hosting its 2017 annual meeting on April 26-27 at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant. Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer of DTE Electric, will speak at the dinner on April 26. Additional details to follow.

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.

National Energy Events

The SAE 2017 Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium will take place February 7-9 in San Diego. This annual event is the source for current and forward-looking hybrid and EV technology advances, with presentations from senior level executives and engineers from OEM and supplier companies.

GreenBiz17 is taking place on February 14-16 in Phoenix. Join the world’s brightest sustainability thinkers for a look into the pressing challenges, emerging trends, and biggest opportunities in sustainable business today.

The Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance is hosting their annual Midwest Energy Solutions Conference on February 22-24 in Chicago. This annual events aims to raise awareness and reinforce the importance of energy efficiency in the Midwest.

The 2017 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit is taking place February 27-March 1 in National Harbor, MD. Now in its 8th year, this annual event brings together technical and professional experts for a program aimed at moving transformational energy technologies out of the lab and into the market.

The 2017 ACEEE/ CEE National Symposium on Market Transformation will take place April 2-4 in Washington D.C. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Innovative Approaches from Emerging Technologies to Market Transformation.’

The Energy Storage Association’s 27th Annual Conference and Expo is taking place April 18-20 in Denver. This event brings together leaders in the global energy industry working at the nexus of policy, technology and markets for energy storage.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual Future of Energy Summit will take place April 24-25 in New York. This annual event brings together traditional players and advanced energy leaders to discuss the critical energy issues of today and the next decade.

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.

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.

Additional Resources 

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant cycle is now open, awarding grants for renewable energy projects in rural communities and agricultural areas. REAP is open to Agricultural Producers and Rural Small Businesses. Grants can be used for the purchase, installation, and construction of a Renewable Energy System or Energy Efficiency Improvement. Rural Small Business Projects must be located in a rural area with populations of 50,000 or less. The Agricultural Producer Projects can be located in rural or non-rural areas. REAP Grants provide a 25% cash reimbursement of the total system costs, with a maximum grant of $500,000 for Renewable Energy Systems and $250,000 for Energy Efficiency Improvements.
Applications for projects with Total Project Costs of $80,000 or less are now closed. Applications for projects with Total Project Costs greater than $80,000 are accepted through Monday, May 1, 2017.
The Application Templates and Forms are available at USDA Rural Development Offices or the National Website at: under Forms and 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.
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 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.