Newsletter: Legislature Adjourns Without any Action on Energy Legislation

This newsletter was originally published on June 10, 2016.

Legislature Adjourns Without any Action on Energy Legislation

The legislature adjourned for the summer yesterday, without the Senate advancing a pair of energy bills that would repeal the renewable portfolio standard, phase out the energy optimization standard and would add a new, one-sided cost to customers installing distributed generation systems, among a host of other changes.
The bills – SB 437 and 438 – were reported out of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee two weeks ago, and committee chair Mike Nofs had hoped to see the full Senate take action before the Senate broke for the summer. But the complexity of the bills, focus on passing a budget and legislation affecting Detroit Public Schools’ debt, and broad opposition – including news that the bills would cost ratepayers an additional $4.4 billion over the next ten years – stalled the package.

This week, Sen. Nofs states that he has been in discussions with the Michigan Chamber over a plan to create competitive bidding for projects $50 million or more by combining the certificate of need and Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) processes. He continued that he believed he received positive feedback on the provision, but could not reach an agreement on final language in a short amount of time.

Senator Nofs also stated his desire to pass a bipartisan package, and that to build agreement over a final package would take time. The three senate Democrats who sat on the committee passed two weeks ago, stating a desire to push more renewables, energy efficiency and protect distributed generation.

Some of the more notable changes to current law include:

  • Creates a new integrated resource planning (IRP) process where utilities would submit plans to be reviewed by the Michigan Public Service Commission in a contested case, and where any investments covered in the IRP would be deemed reasonable and prudent;
  • Repeals the renewable portfolio standard (RPS), and substitutes it with a 35% combined goal for renewable energy and energy efficiency to be evaluated in the IRP. The legislation also includes a 10% floor for renewable energy, though this requirement applies only to investor-owned utilities (not cooperatives or municipally-owned utilities);
  • Delays repeal of the energy optimization (EO) program for electric utilities until January 1, 2021, with efficiency investments considered under the IRP;
  • Adds a new “grid usage charge” for customers installing distributed generation systems. Notably, those currently under net metering would be grandfathered, and the previous language to move to a sell-all, buy-all requirement has been eliminated;
  • Adds requirements that require alternative electric suppliers (AESes) to demonstrate adequate capacity to cover their customer load;
  • Adds a new green pricing program to allow for voluntary purchases of renewable energy;
  • Adds additional consideration for demand response and demand management as part of the IRP;
  • Redefines renewable energy to include incineration, new hydroelectric, and pyrolysis, as well as removing the requirement that biomass be sustainability managed;
  • Expands opportunities for cogeneration;
  • Broadens the scope and adds funding for the Utility Consumer Participation Board;
  • Amends the utility code of conduct to allow utilities greater flexibility in entering non-regulated market sectors, including allowing utilities to offer sales of steam and to own inverters for distributed solar generation systems

Over the summer, please contact your State Senator and ask them to ensure that any legislation passed protects ratepayers, expands renewable energy and energy efficiency, provides meaningful market access for independent renewable energy developers, and ensures those who generate their own power are not burdened with arbitrary additional charges.


Michigan EIBC Announces New Utility Council to Foster Discussion and a Clearer Membership Structure

At its board meeting last week in Detroit, Michigan EIBC staff were directed to create a clearer membership structure and to create a new utility council. After a wholly owned non-utility subsidiary of CMS Energy, sought to join Michigan EIBC, the council sought to clarify its membership structure. In addition, several municipally owned utilities have expressed interested. Currently, two utility companies as members: ITC Holdings, a transmission company serving Michigan and a number of other states which is primarily regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Veolia Energy, which owns and operates the Grand Rapids district energy system and is regulated by the City of Grand Rapids. Both are members of Michigan EIBC’s Leadership Council, and both are represented on the Michigan EIBC Board of Directors. To date, no other utilities have joined Michigan EIBC.

Following Michigan EIBC’s 2016 Annual Members Meeting, a subgroup of Board members met to discuss this issue, and instructed Michigan EIBC staff to develop potential membership categories for utility companies and their affiliates. Last week, the board met to review these categories. In the memo drafted by staff it was stated the following:

  1. That Michigan EIBC membership categories should reflect Michigan EIBC mission, which is “to grow Michigan’s advanced energy economy by fostering opportunities for innovation and business growth and offering a unified voice in creating a business-friendly environment for the advanced energy industry in Michigan.”
  2. Membership for utilities should balance interest in expanding Michigan EIBC membership and promoting engagement with utilities with the interest of current members in having a forum to advance interests of advanced energy companies.
  3. The relationships between utilities advanced energy companies are a dynamic one, with utilities frequently being their sole or largest customer, but their interests not always being aligned.
  4. There are important differences between utilities regulated by the MPSC and those regulated by other entities, and our membership categories should reflect these differences.

With that in mind, the board directed staff to develop a new Michigan EIBC Utility Council to facilitate dialogue with Michigan EIBC members and utilities in Michigan. The board also decided that the following changes to the membership structure should be adopted:

  1. Utilities offering distribution service of electricity or natural gas in Michigan that are regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission cannot become members of Michigan EIBC, but will be allowed to serve on the new Utility Council.
  2. Unregulated affiliates and subsidiaries of a regulated utility offering distribution service of electricity or natural gas in Michigan will be allowed to become members, but cannot serve on the policy committee or the board of directors.
  3. Representatives of utilities shall comprise not more than 20% of the total number of Michigan EIBC Board of Directors.

If you are interested in becoming a Michigan EIBC member or a member of the new Michigan EIBC Utility Council, please send an email to


Michigan Energy News

The Michigan Public Service Commission is docking Consumers Energy $515 thousand for not taking actual meter reads for too many customers for too long, MIRS reports

Mlive has a story on the Senate adjourning without any action on SB 437 and 438.

A high school senior in Northport, Michigan developed a solar energy plan that his own school is now implementing, 9 & 10 news has the story

DTE announced they are closing coal plants in River Rouge facility, East China Township and Trenton, Detroit News reports.

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Amway and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council remain opposed to the Senate energy package, Grand Rapids Business Journal reports.


National Energy News

The Department of Energy announced $22 million in research and development money to accelerate electric vehicle development.

Congressional leadership and major oil companies are at odds over the adoption of a nonbinding resolution against a revenue neutral carbon tax, Bloomberg reports.

A subsidiary of Apple, Apple Energy LLC, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sell the excess power they will produce from solar panels at their new facility, Bloomberg reports.

Utility Dive has a feature on the future of combined heat and power.

New Yorks REV system changed the utility revenue models and could become a new model for utilities, Utility Dive reports.

The USDA’s Rural Utility Service has invested $1.1 billion since 2009 in 26 renewable energy projects in rural America, Utility Dive has the story.

Boulder, Colorado and Xcel are in talks to end they city’s bid to start a municipal utility, Utility Dive reports.

A majority of new generation last quarter came from solar energy, Bloomberg reports.


Michigan Energy Events

An advanced combined heat, power, and cooling system – CHP+ Cooling or “Tri-generation” – will be on display at the 2016 HBA Grand Traverse Home Show, in Traverse City on June 11-12, and June 16-19. If you would like to arrange a more in-depth tour of the system, please contact Bob Fegan at DTE Energy at

Lean and Green Michigan is hosting a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Contractor Training on Thursday, June 23 at the Keith Center Lecture Hall at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. For more information, contact Kyle Peczynski of Petros PACE Financing LLC at or 734-718-8404.

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is hosting the Michigan Energy Fair on June 24-25 at the Ingham County Fairgrounds in Mason. This year’s Fair also boasts the Great Lakes Emergency Preparedness Expo and the Sustainable Living Summit 2016.

The 2016 Michigan Energy Providers Conference will take place on July 27-29 at Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa in Thompsonville. Michigan EIBC is a Gold sponsor for this event.

National Events
Intersolar North America will take place July 12-14 in San Francisco.
Solar Power International is scheduled for September 12-15 in Las Vegas.
The Battery Show, collocated with the Critical Power Expo and Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, will be held in Novi from September 13-15.

Additional 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. is a national solar permitting database that provides information on permitting for solar in jurisdictions across the country. The database includes a variety of information, from average permit turnaround times, to information required to be included in the permit, to contact information for individual jurisdictions. You can browse the requirements for the Michigan cities included in the database here.
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 has 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.