Newsletter: Legislature Passes Energy Bills

This newsletter was originally published on December 19, 2016.

Legislature Passes Energy Bills: Grows Renewables, Limits Market Access

In the final week of session for the 2015-2016 term, the Michigan Legislature passed a modified version of SB 437 and 438 by wide margins. The legislation had passed the Michigan Senate on November 10th, and had been waiting a vote in the House during the lame duck session. Finally, on the last day of session, the House passed the bills with additional changes, which the Senate concurred with to send the bill to the Governor for signature.

Since passed, this package has gone through a myriad of changes. Here is a summary of how the legislation finally looked:

Renewables: After the original version of the bill repealed the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the RPS was expanded to 15 percent by 2022. Unfortunately, the 50-50 market split provision within the existing statute was removed.

Net Metering: Net Metering will still be renamed “Distributed Generation” (thus losing the concept of “netting” that offsets local generation against grid-supplied energy), and the Michigan Public Service Commission will have the authority to impose new charge to solar users.

Energy Efficiency: The Energy Optimization program was renamed the Energy Waste Reduction program and was extended to the end of 2021, after which utilities can submit energy waste reduction plans to the MPSC that is higher or lower than the mandated 1 percent. The key change from the Senate-passed version to the final version was a time gap between the existing program and the new method was closed.

Interconnection of UP and Lower Peninsula: The prospect of interconnecting the UP and Lower Peninsula would be referred to a “study commission,” but there is no provision that would ultimately guarantee a true interconnection. 

The final deal was struck when the Governor got involved in the legislative proceedings, meeting with key Republican leaders, utilities and retail open access advocates. After a deal was made, more than enough Republican House members came aboard to clear the caucus’ self-imposed rule that only bills with the support of a majority of the majority caucus can get a vote on the floor.

There were hopes that the repealing the 50-50 market split and changing net metering would be taken out of the final version of the package, but this did not happen. In the end, while this is a win for growing more renewable generation and further reducing energy waste, non-utility players have less access into Michigan’s advanced energy market as a result. We have made this a high priority for us from the beginning of this debate and we will continue to keep this a high priority for next term. We believe the energy of the future is a space that should be open for innovation and creation.


Michigan Energy Clips

Governor Snyder has stated he intends to sign SB 437 and 438, Mlive reports.

Detroit-based firm Phoenix Haus constructed the first ‘passive’ home in Michigan. Homes like these are highly efficient due to their building envelope and careful siting to maximize the use of the sun, Douglas Elbinger of Michigan EIBC member Newman Consultants reports.

A new 42 turbine wind generation project in the Upper Peninsula is stalled, Great Lakes Echo reports.

A community group in the Upper Peninsula lobbied the legislature to include a provision that the MPSC hold public hearings within the service area of the utility asking for a rate increase, The Mining Journal reports.

The MPSC has approved for a new utility to be formed in the Upper Peninsula, Utility Dive reports.

New revenue from wind turbines in Tuscola County is becoming a large funding portion of the budget, though it’s not expected to last very long, Huron Daily Tribune reports.


National Energy News

The Energy Gang gave a review of 2016 in their last podcast of the year.

The first commercial offshore wind farm in the United States, a 30 MW system off the coast of Bock Island, RI, is officially operating, as announced in an official release from Deepwater Wind.

Dynapower and Samsung SDI have announced a new integrated, behind the meter energy storage system, starting with a 250 kW/550 kWh offering.

A New York utility is installing its first microgrid project in New York City: a combined battery, fuel cell and solar facility in Brooklyn, Utility Dive reports.

Sunrun, the California-based solar installation and leasing company, is introducing their solar and energy storage system to the California market, Utility Dive reports.

Virginia utilities are backing a set of proposed legislation to streamline renewable deployment and incorporate community solar programs, the Energy Collective reports.

Those in the Wind industry want President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to build more transmission, and they have hopes that Rick Perry as Energy Secretary can help, Utility Dive reports.

Energy Storage could be coming faster than you think, GreenTech Media reports.

GE’s $1 billion energy management arm is undergoing a restructuring, GreenTech Media reports.

Elon Musk has been tapped to join several other national business leaders on President-elect Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, but how will he fare as an advocate for advanced energy in the administration? GreenTech Media has more.


Michigan Energy Events
Michigan EIBC will be hosting their bi-annual “Energy 101” for state legislators on January 25, in Lansing. More details to follow.

National Energy Events
The Renewable Energy World International conference is being held December 13-15 in Orlando. Find out more here.

Advanced Energy Economy is holding a webinar, “Advanced Energy Year in Review: What happened in 2016 – and what to expect in 2017,” on December 15, at 1pm EST. Register here.

The 15th annual Cleantech Forum will take place January 23-25 in San Francisco. This annual gathering brings together the global cleanteach innovation community for three days to network, chart the future, and get deals done.  

Additional Resources
MI Agency for Energy Issuing RFP for Industrial Energy Efficiency
The Michigan Agency for Energy’s Energy Office has issued a Request-for-Proposals (RFP) for small business manufacturers interested in investing in retooling projects that result in energy waste reduction in manufacturing processes and/or the manufacturing of clean energy technologies. Proposals are due by Dec. 12.
The RFP is open to small manufacturers with 500 or fewer employees located in Michigan. Eligible projects are those that decrease energy waste in manufacturing processes (e.g. combined heat and power) or increase manufacturing of energy efficient technologies.
A total of $100,000 in funding is available.  Grant awards will range from $25,000 to $50,000 for equipment purchases only, with a 4-to-1 match requirement of cash or in-kind services. Funds for the Retooling and Manufacturing grant program come from the U.S. Department of Energy through MAE’s Energy Office.
The RFP is located here.

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 accepted through Monday, October 31, 2016. 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.