This newsletter was originally published on November 3, 2017.
Michigan EIBC Members MI Cat and Lean and Green Michigan Testify in House Agriculture on PACE for Digesters
House Agriculture committee met on Wednesday and considered Sen. Booher’s (R-Evart) bill SB 375 which allows anaerobic digesters to be financed using PACE. Presenting on behalf of Michigan EIBC were Kevin O’Connell of Michigan Cat, Cory Connelly of Lean and Green Michigan and Liesl Clark of Michigan EIBC.
There were questions from chairman Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) on the structure of PACE financing and current digester use in Michigan. Rep. Elder (D-Bay City), minority vice chair, inquired about the improvement in overall in waste streams due to increased digester use.
The committee plans to take the bill up in the coming week for a vote. If the bill passes out of committee, it will face a floor vote in the House (SB 375 passed the Senate 38-0) and will then head to Governor Snyder’s desk.
Michigan’s Largest PACE Deal Announced
Continuing on PACE related news, Lean and Green Michigan announced the biggest PACE project yet in Michigan, a $2 million renovation of the Radisson hotel at Detroit Wayne Metropolitan Airport. On October 19, the Radisson Hotel at the Detroit airport closed the largest PACE project in Michigan to date to cover comprehensive upgrades to its water and energy systems. Twain Financial provided $2,121,278.80 in financing through the Wayne County Lean & Green Michigan PACE program. Owner Jeff Katofsky is making the Radisson and its 272 rooms a model of sustainability. Using an energy audit from G-Energy, expert PACE guidance from RAHILL Capital, and 100% financing from Twain Financial, Michigan’s first PACE project at a hotel was also one of its most comprehensive. The “clean energy makeover” included LED lights, a reflective roof, low-flow faucets and toilets, HVAC equipment and controls, pool dehumidification and more.
Next week: Energy Innovators Gala will celebrate advanced energy leaders in Michigan
The 5th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala is next Thursday, November 9th, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. We hope you can join us as we celebrate Michigan’s advanced energy industry and recognize businesses and individuals for their outstanding contributions.
This year’s event will feature the following speakers:
Valerie Brader, Executive Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, will offer opening remarks. Valerie’s service with the administration began in 2011 and prior to this role, she served as Deputy Legal Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Snyder.
Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), is the keynote speaker. Abby will share with attendees the challenges and opportunities facing the solar industry. Abby oversees all of SEIA’s activities, including government affairs, research, communications, and industry leadership.
The cocktail reception starts at 5:00 pm and runs until 6:20 pm, providing plenty of time for networking. Advanced energy business leaders, MPSC staff, and public officials will be in attendance. There will also be time for networking at the conclusion of the awards presentation.
Awards will be presented in the following categories:
- Business of the Year
- Emerging Business of the Year
- Employer of the Year
- Public Official of the Year
We thank our sponsors:
Apex Clean Energy
5 Lakes Energy
Michigan Agency for Energy-Michigan Energy Office
Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
Tickets are still available for this year’s Energy Innovators Gala. Reserve your ticket today!
Michigan Energy News:
- The U.S. International Trade Commission issued three non-binding recommendations for imported solar components, including a tariff of up to 35%. None of the recommendations come close to what was originally sought by SolarWorld and Suniva.
- Last week, the House Tax Policy Committee discussed HB 5143, introduced by Rep. Barrett, to exempt renewable energy generated for consumption on site from property taxes.
- The Public Service Commission approved a Certificate of Necessity for UMERC to build two natural gas plants in the UP.
- The Public Service Commission is considering developing pilot programs targeting electric vehicle deployment and infrastructure. The Commission is seeking public comment on topics including rate design, electrical grid impacts, customer education and the role of the utility in infrastructure deployment, and how those costs would be recouped.
- Consumers Energy customers can expect to see a one-time refund.
- The Public Service Commission will review UPPCO’s billing practices.
- Up North energy companies, including Michigan EIBC member companies Leelanau Solar LLC and Peninsula Solar, were highlighted by Traverse City Business News for their continued innovations.
- Retired US Navy Rear Admiral David Titley explained how climate change impacts national security at Michigan Tech.
- An activist group, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, called on Detroit businesses and individuals to take steps to reduce climate change in a new report
- Monday was National Weatherization Day, and local Community Action agencies across Michigan reminded struggling families about the Weatherization Assistance Program funded through the U.S. Department of Energy.
- A study found that connecting to out-of-UP power sources would not be cost effective. However, the outlook is good for the UP’s energy future and for ratepayers.
- Michigan EIBC member company Geronimo Energy’s proposed solar arrays for a Western Michigan University community solar project would be used for education and research in Nottawa and Mendon townships.
- Officials are currently considering the role of commercial solar development in Huron County’s future.
- A solar farm may come to St. Clair Industrial Park.
- Michigan State University officials unveiled a major solar project installed at carports on campus – the largest such project in North America.
- The Radisson Hotel at the DTW airport signed on to Michigan’s largest-ever PACE financing plan with Michigan EIBC member Lean & Green Michigan.
- The Detroit City Council passed a long-debated ordinance to regulate the handling of petroleum coke, a byproduct of a nearby oil refinery in the city.
- Enbridge says it knew of damage to its Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac in 2014 but did not disclose it to state officials because the company did not deem it a safety concern.
- Consumers Energy will help repurpose the site of a former coal plant in west Michigan to expand the region’s food processing and shipping industry.
- Michigan State University announced plans for $50 million in improvements to the T.B. Simon Power Plant.
- A new senior resident inspector was named for the DTE Fermi 2 plant in Newport.
- Tesla opened its first-ever standalone gallery in Michigan.
News from Washington:
- Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune said he is not ruling out the Trump administration’s proposal to raising the federal gasoline tax by 7 cents to help pay for its infrastructure plan.
- Representative Tom Reed says he urged fellow House lawmakers not to end tax credits for the wind and solar industry early.
- Republican lawmakers are moving closer to allowing oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the House adopted the Senate’s budget resolution on a 216-212 vote.
- Several Republican senators from states with oil refineries called on President Trump to change the Renewable Fuel Standard following the Trump administration’s saying it would uphold the current biofuels policy.
- A bipartisan group of senators is proposing legislation that would allow firms building wind turbines, solar farms and other alternative energy projects to use a beneficial legal entity that lowers their taxes, which is already used by the oil and gas sector.
- In an interview that aired Sunday, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt said President Obama’s environmental regulations were a declaration of “war” on coal and other industries.
- Nineteen senators sent a letter questioning Pruitt’s logic for repealing the Clean Power Plan, saying his proposal “uses mathematical sleights of hand” to overstate the rule’s costs and understate its benefits.
- The EPA said it would reassess the process for issuing air pollution permits at new facilities under the Clean Air Act as part of a broader effort to ease regulations in the energy sector.
- As the Federal Energy Regulator Commission considers an Energy Department proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants, parties on both sides of the debate are preparing alternative plans to improve grid reliability. A new analysis shows that the Energy Department’s plan would cost U.S. taxpayers $10.6 billion a year, with total estimated costs ranging from $300 million to more than $32 billion.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regained its ability to certificate natural gas pipelines.
- A leaked draft of the Interior Department’s five-year plan prioritizes “energy dominance” over conservation.
- President Trump nominates a Kentucky coal industry consultant to serve as the nation’s top mining regulator.
- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced the nominations of four EPA appointees, including two of the more controversial nominees – Michael Dourson to head the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and William Wehrum to head the Office of Air and Radiation. The next step is a confirmation vote on the Senate floor.
Cities & Communities leading in Advanced Energy:
- St. Louis, Missouri, is the 47th U.S. city to commit to a goal of 100% clean energy.
Grid & Efficiency News:
- New research outlines how energy markets can evolve to integrate ever higher amounts of renewable generation like wind and solar.
- Puerto Rico’s power authority requested assistance from mainland U.S. utilities and the Army Corps of Engineers after canceling its controversial $300 million power contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC.
- Five years later, Superstorm Sandy is a case study in how to build back a system that’s been crippled.
- Duke Energy is planning a 5-megawatt microgrid project at a National Guard base in Indiana.
- The $2 billion, 800-mile CapX2020 transmission line is officially online in South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
- State officials in Ohio have recommended that Duke Energy reduce its distribution rates on customers rather than increase them.
- To ease spikes in power demand in California, a San Francisco-based startup is sending customers text messages to cut their energy use.
- Florida Power & Light is seeking to recoup an estimated $1.3 billion from customers to cover the costs of restoring electricity after Hurricane Irma.
- Wisconsin residents are urging state regulators to cap utility rate increases as Xcel Energy seeks to increase revenues to maintain grid reliability.
- An inquiry underway in Massachusetts will force the state Department of Public Utilities to rule on the eligibility of energy storage systems to qualify for net metering.
- An Iowa-based solar installer is offering a storage solution that could cut power bills in half for some large electricity customers in a state with high demand charges.
- A new housing development in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, will use grid-interactive electric thermal water heaters to enable a community energy storage project.
- Colorado State University received a $6 million gift to promote energy efficiency research.
Solar Energy News:
- The Labor Department projects solar installers will be among the fastest growing jobs over the next decade.
- Shares for thin-film panel developer First Solar plunged 10% after federal trade officials recommend moderate trade remedies. And the company is not alone; utility-scale solar could see more than half of projected installations disappear if tariffs and other trade remedies are imposed, according to a new report.
- Entergy Arkansas filed plans with state regulators to build what would be the state’s largest solar farm.
- A collaborative project among leaders in Chicago-area communities looks to make it easier for residents and developers to create new markets for rooftop solar.
- The Minneapolis City Council last month signed new 25-year agreements for community solar subscriptions that will dedicate a portion to serve low-income households.
- Advocates say while there is solar growth potential in Wisconsin, they will remain focused on investor-owned utilities’ attempts to raise fees.
- An Illinois township proposes a combination solar panel farm and cemetery expansion project on about 40 acres of farmland.
- NRG Energy will build a 3 MW solar facility for the pharmaceutical company McKesson at its distribution center in New Jersey.
- A Chicago-based company wants to build a 37-acre solar-plus-storage facility that could provide over 40% of energy for the Hawaiian island of Molokai.
- Oregon’s largest solar plant, 57 MWs, begins commercial operations and will sell its energy to an Apple data center.
- Two nonprofits are eyeing Minnesota in their efforts to expand solar bulk-buying programs aimed at reducing installation costs for consumers.
- Some local officials in Minnesota are wary of community solar development, concerned that local units of government would have unforeseen costs.
- A high school in central Illinois looks to cover 75% of its rooftop with solar panels.
- A subsidiary of Florida-based NextEra Energy files for a permit application to build a 20 MW solar project in Maine.
- A Milwaukee Islamic center is pursuing solar energy as a way to build connections in the community and understanding among faith-based groups.
- A New Jersey utility completes a solar-plus-storage project at a wastewater treatment plant that will keep it operational during an extended power outage.
- Wisconsin-based Organic Valley launches a partnership to develop 12 MWs of solar as it becomes the largest food company in the world to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewables.
- A group of nuns in Minnesota help bring a 1.3 MW solar garden to their community.
- Tesla announced its first successful solar and storage project in Puerto Rico, saying its solar panels and batteries restored electricity at a children’s hospital in San Juan.
Wind Energy News:
- The Labor Department projects wind turbine technicians will be among the fastest growing jobs over the next decade.
- Why wind energy is becoming the preferred power option in the country.
- Statoil wants to develop a wind farm with a capacity of up to 1 GW off the coast of New York.
- Avangrid Renewables made a lease agreement for a 142-turbine wind farm in New Mexico, which is slated to be the largest in the state.
- A University of Chicago professor says states with high potential for wind energy not only face barriers with the Department of Energy’s proposal to save coal and nuclear plants, but also “political and regulatory realities” that continue to hold back development.
- MidAmerican Energy is constructing a 170-turbine wind project in Iowa as it moves toward a goal of generating 100% of its electricity from wind.
- High wind speeds last week helped one Iowa utility produce enough renewable energy for all of its customers.
- Four Maine lawmakers join local officials to oppose new wind projects in the state’s Moosehead Lake region, saying they would threaten the tourism industry there.
- The under-construction 2 GW Wind Catcher wind farm in Oklahoma is set to be the biggest wind farm in the US and the second biggest in the world. It is being developed by Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy in association with General Electric, as part of the $4.5 billion renewable project Wind Catcher Energy Connection, which also includes the construction of a dedicated generation tie-line.
- Researchers say wind farms pose little threat to prairie chickens and could actually create safer habitats by deterring predators.
- An industry report says the federal production tax credit and corporate demand are continuing to drive wind development.
- Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy got a turbine permit in Emmetsburg, California, after a 3-2 vote.
- A legislative panel in Vermont voted in favor of a proposal to cap nighttime sound levels from wind turbines.
- The Trump administration makes a deal with Denmark to expand cooperation on offshore wind power.
- Six companies are using grant money from the Department of Energy to develop technology for small and medium-sized wind turbines.
- South Dakota regulators reject a plan for a 200-turbine wind project that would have spanned more than 29,000 acres.
- Methane from a 160-acre Nebraska landfill will be piped into a utility’s natural gas system.
- Nine U.S. senators send a letter urging President Trump to change the country’s biofuels policy, saying they want a meeting to discuss the matter.
Fossil Fuel & Nuclear Energy News:
- With much of the easiest oil already pumped, fracking companies are failing to meet expectations and investors are demanding that they sell off weaker holdings and pay down their debt.
- Developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline say they will modify plans for crossing waterways based on requests from North Carolina’s DEQ, as opponents there and in Virginia and West Virginia continue to push state regulators to shut down projects.
- With declining output, shale producers are seeing increased pressure from shareholders who want to see less investment and more profits.
- A planned $38.5 million, 38-MW natural gas plant will no longer be built in Nebraska after a dispute over whether the private developer could legally build it.
- Vistra Energy Corp. will buy Dynegy Inc. in an all-stock deal worth $1.7 billion, merging two power producers in order to streamline operations in response to shrinking industry-wide profit margins. The deal, which would give the two companies access to six of the largest U.S. electricity markets, comes as cheap natural gas from shale fields has driven electricity prices lower.
- Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy’s natural gas power plant in Jessup, Pennsylvania, is nearing completion.
- A U.S. District Judge says a Montana coal mine can continue work on an expansion project while the government reconsiders the climate change impacts, temporarily averting dozens of layoffs.
- Pennsylvania-based Consol Energy is splitting into a coal company and a natural gas company, after selling many of its West Virginia coal mines in recent years in a move to exit the industry.
- A test plant coming to Wyoming will work on producing cleaner burning coal that creates more energy than untreated coal.
- SCANA announces that its CEO is retiring at the end of the year, making him the second leader involved in South Carolina’s failed Summer nuclear project to step aside without being fired.
Technology & Market News:
- A New York startup is preparing to expand internationally after building the world’s first blockchain microgrid in Brooklyn.
- A college campus in New York is testing a micro power market that prices power from small assets, and the results could be used to help homeowners sell electricity from rooftop solar panels to their neighbors.
Advanced Lighting News:
- Michigan EIBC member company CLEAResult and ComEd are nearing a milestone of 100 million energy efficient lightbulbs.
- LightingEurope issued whitepaper on evolving LED lighting to support a circular economy.
Vehicle & Mobility News:
- Tesla plans to nearly double the number of supercharger stations in Texas by the end of 2018.
- Utah regulators are seeking public input on how to spend its $35 million share of a $15.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen over its emissions cheating scandal.
- The Electric Vehicle Charging Association released the 2017 Report of California’s Electric Vehicle Charging Industry.
- The London Metal Exchange is planning to launch futures contracts for metals such as cobalt and lithium, used in batteries that power electric vehicles, as early as the start of 2019, marking the latest example of how the commodities market is hoping to profit from the expected growth of electric vehicles.
- A new study argues that utilities should be more aggressive in adopting electric vehicle infrastructure, and that they would be justified in passing along the cost to ratepayers.
- An autoworkers’ union files unfair labor practice charges against Tesla for firing about 400 employees earlier this month.
Michigan Energy Events:
Generate Capital invites you to a tour of the Fremont Regional Digester on November 8 to see how they turn organic waste into energy. The digester can accommodate all types of waste streams and provide complete organic waste management services. To sign up for this event, visit the website here by November 6.
The 5th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala will take place on Thursday, November 9 at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. This annual gala recognizes those businesses and policymakers who have done the most to grow the Michigan advanced energy industry. Tickets are on sale now, with sponsorships also available. Learn more here.
National Energy Events:
Free CEE Technology Forum, November 7 at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. See how tech piloting, program design, and partnerships will define our next era of energy efficiency. Speakers from Nest, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, EPRI, Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association, Xcel Energy, and Northwest Power & Conservation Council.
The 2017 U.S. Power and Renewables Summit will take place in Austin on November 7-8. The conference, hosted by Greentech Media, provides an in-depth look at how solar, wind, and related renewable energy technologies are impacting power markeys, and how this interaction is raising key questions and challenges for the industry moving forward.
EUCI invites you to the Electric Vehicle-Utility Industry Nexus, December 11-12, 2017 in Anaheim, California. Register here.
The U.S. Energy Storage Summit 2017 is taking place December 12-13 in San Francisco. Now in
its third year, this event brings together utilities, financiers, regulators, technology innovators, and storage practitioners for two full days of data-intensive presentations, analyst-led panel sessions with industry leaders, and extensive, high-level networking.
Registration is now open for the 2017 Veteran’s Energy Seminar on December 14 in Chicago. This one-day training for military veterans and reservists will include classroom sessions and panels on global energy security challenges. Learn more and register to attend by clicking here.
Mark your calendar for the 5th National Conference on Next Generation Demand Response on February 7-8, in San Diego, California. For more information, and to register, visit the event website here.
A website from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on updates to state energy laws. For more information, or to sign up for notifications, visit www.michigan.gov/energylegislation.