- Newsletter (377)
Welcome to the weekly newsletter of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), the business voice for advanced energy in Michigan. Here’s what’s new this week:
‘MI Power for All Plan’ In Spotlight Ahead of Legislature Reconvening
The Michigan legislature is reconvening in September, and several bills that are critical for encouraging the growth of solar and energy storage across the state are on the docket. On Aug. 24, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Rep. Jenn Hill (D-Marquette), Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman, Michigan United’s Angana Shah and Soulardarity’s Rafael Mojica spoke at a press conference to bring attention to the “MI Power for All Plan,” a package of recently-introduced bills that are important priorities to accelerate solar and storage adoption across the state, ensuring that historically underserved Michigan families are able to reap the economic and environmental benefits.
The bills highlighted by the press conference include SB 362 and SB 363, which would remove Michigan’s controversial and widely-criticized one percent cap on distributed energy resources like solar. First enacted in 2008, the one percent limit — one of the most restrictive in the country — has drawn frustration from the clean energy industry, climate activists, and lawmakers across the political spectrum. In May 2023, Indiana Michigan (I&M) Power, a utility providing electric service to the Southwest corner of Michigan, became the most recent utility in the state to hit its distributed generation cap and begin turning away prospective customers.
“Eliminating the unnecessary, arbitrary cap on rooftop solar is long overdue,” Michigan EIBC President Laura Sherman said in a statement. “Restricting solar growth – especially as the cost of solar continues to plummet and investment in solar projects begins to skyrocket thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act – needlessly stifles the state’s clean energy workforce and creates roadblocks for homeowners facing outage after outage who want to generate their own power.”
Beyond eliminating the distributed generation cap, the MI Power for All package would remove additional barriers to solar adoption for low- and moderate-income Michiganders, including upfront costs and restrictions on housing type. HB 4839, introduced by Rep. Hill, would ensure that customers who use behind-the-meter storage, including solar-plus-storage systems, are compensated for any benefits they provide to their neighbors, the grid and the utilities. HB 4840, introduced by Rep. Donavan McKinney (D-Detroit), would provide rebates to help customers purchase these systems, including bigger rebates for low-income customers.
Finally, the package includes SB 152 and SB 153, which would create a legal path forward for community solar projects that can reduce electric bills and bring the benefits of renewable energy to customers who may otherwise not be able to install solar panels.
Upcoming FERC Transmission Rule Could Unlock Regional Cooperation on New Lines
A pending rule before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could be the key to breaking the logjam that has blocked interstate cooperation on long-range transmission lines, a critical piece of the effort to build more renewable energy as Michigan and other states work toward the goal of carbon neutrality.
A recent report from BloombergNEF found that 380 gigawatts of new transmission capacity expected to come online by 2030 could be in jeopardy of “sitting in permitting limbo that could outlast the decade” unless there are reforms to improve transmission planning.
But experts say that FERC’s proposed regional transmission planning rule could be that reform that is needed, Bloomberg Law reported.
“We have to get to a point where we’re expanding the definition and criteria of the benefits of transmission so it’s more holistic, because that would allow us to move forward with more of the necessary transmission investment,” Linda Apsey, president and CEO of Michigan EIBC member ITC Holdings Corp., said in an interview with Bloomberg Law.
The proposed rule would allow grid planning bodies and utilities to consider benefits they cannot consider now, like improving access to low-cost power resources or increasing reliability, when planning transmission projects and deciding how to allocate their costs. The added ability to take these widespread benefits into account could also allow the costs of the projects to be allocated over a wider base, making it easier to finance projects.
“Many great transmission projects never make it across the threshold because they’re only measured in this bucket, or they’re measured in that bucket,” Apsey also said. “That will fundamentally change how we plan the transmission grid.”
FERC recently issued a final rule aimed at reforming the process for interconnecting new projects to the grid. This proposed transmission planning rule could also help solve the challenges that have led to long delays for generator interconnection.
“The fundamental problem with interconnection and why we have such backlogs is that there is not an adequate transmission system,” Brett White, vice president of regulatory affairs at Michigan EIBC member Pine Gate Renewables, was quoted as saying in an E&E News article.
Tickets Available for the 11th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala in Detroit on Sept. 27
Michigan EIBC is excited to welcome our members, Michigan legislators and state officials, and the general public to our 11th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on September 27th at The Eastern in Detroit. Gala is a wonderful opportunity to network with colleagues, policymakers, and industry experts, all while celebrating the individuals and businesses who succeeded in growing Michigan’s advanced energy sector. For more event information and to purchase tickets, click here.
The keynote speaker will be Shalanda Baker, Director, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to her appointment, she was a Professor of Law, Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. She was the co-founder and co-director of the Initiative for Energy Justice, which provides technical law and policy support to communities on the front lines of climate change. Baker served as an Air Force officer prior to her honorable discharge pursuant to the then existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and became a vocal advocate for repeal of the policy. She earned a B.S. in Political Science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from Northeastern University, and L.L.M. from the University of Wisconsin.
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The Watt Level (Sold Out)
Varnum’s long-standing energy practice encompasses significant experience in conventional, alternative and renewable energy sources. It has been involved in energy legal issues for more than 35 years. Varnum helped organize the Energy Michigan trade association and are a founding member of the Michigan Renewable Energy Consortium. Varnum’s energy clients include: – Municipally-owned electric utilities – Co-generators and independent power producers – Biomass facilities, including waste-to-energy and wood-fired plants – Alternative energy projects, including wind farms, biomass, waste-to-energy, landfill gas, hydroelectric, and biodigesters – Oil & gas producers and transporters – Nuclear power plants – Trade associations – Investors and lenders – Customers and end-users – Manufacturers of energy-producing parts and equipment Varnum’s project work includes utility scale cogeneration and exempt wholesale generators in excess of 1000 MW; alternative energy projects from 0.5 MW to 65 MW; and natural gas pipelines, production and utility scale storage facilities. Varnum has both the 40,000 foot perspective and the detailed knowledge of this highly-regulated industry to help you meet its clients energy goals in the new energy marketplace.
Vesco Oil Company
Vesco Oil Corporation is an ISO certified total solution provider to automotive and industrial customers. Vesco supplies lubricants, fluids, and related products and services. Vesco is an environmental leader, providing comprehensive management of both regulated hazardous and non-hazardous materials.
Vesco is committed to the development of clean energy solutions to support the needs of our customers. We offer solutions for charging station installation and repair, transportation and recycling of batteries and other materials from manufacturing. Vesco is dedicated to Michigan’s clean energy industry.
Vesco is committed to delivering the best service in the industry; we never compromise integrity; we provide environmental leadership; we feature high quality products; and we care about people.
Michigan Energy News
- The University of Michigan has launched the first phase of its project to install 400 EV-charging spaces across its Ann Arbor campus.
- Consumers Energy is partnering with Michigan school districts to help deploy more than 50 all-electric school buses across the state.
- Extreme weather left over 200,000 DTE customers without power on Friday.
- Detroit’s Office of Sustainability is working on a plan to better respond to potential heat deaths connected to climate change.
National Energy News
- Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker vetoes a bill that would have given incumbent utilities in that state the right of first refusal to build transmission lines.
- A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy finds a nearly 5% decline in utility efficiency program spending from 2018 to 2021.
- The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority announces $15 million in funding for four long-duration energy storage demonstration projects, including $12 million for Michigan EIBC member Form Energy.
- Wildfires like the one in Maui are part of a trend that has led to lawsuits against utilities that cause the costs of wildfires to be passed onto customers.
Attention Michigan EIBC members: if you have a job announcement you would like in the newsletter, please send a paragraph describing the position and a link to apply to Matt Bandyk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include in the email a specific end date for the job posting.
Advanced Energy United
Advanced Energy United is currently seeking a highly energetic, smart, self-starting Policy Principal with a background in regulatory engagement, issue advocacy, and coalition building to join United’s policy and campaign team in the West. The Principal will work collaboratively with United’s state teams to craft and execute creative policy campaigns that will achieve successful state regulatory action to accelerate the energy transition and expand markets for the advanced energy industry. Policy topics may include distributed energy resources, transmission and interconnection, resource planning, future of gas and building decarbonization, transportation electrification, western regional market formation, and utility business model reform. The Principal will also work under the direction of United’s western regulatory Policy Director to build out United’s regulatory presence and strengthen relationships with decision-makers in western states. Candidates will need to have the ability to travel to meet with United members, coalition allies and stakeholders, and public officials.
Cultivate Power is seeking a Director of Community Partnerships & Investment. This person will help originate, develop and foster community partnership and investment opportunities in the host communities and regions where Cultivate Power develops distributed energy projects. Additionally, the Director will work to build systems and standardized processes for engaging communities on every project. This is a unique role with the opportunity for the Director to drive industry-leading impact to create greater inclusion, equity and benefit to communities through innovation and creation of new programs and partnerships. The Director will report directly to one of the Managing Directors and co-founders of Cultivate Power.
Development Solutions Midwest
Development Solutions Midwest is an industry leader in energy savings and project management. DSM has been well recognized in the Michigan Energy Efficiency and Energy Waste Reduction arenas since 2009. In business for over 20 years, DSM has helped save its clients over $140 Million in energy costs and reduce over 1,445,000 tons of CO2. The energy efficiency engineer will be involved in following tasks:
• Performing Energy Audits on site to determine energy cost savings opportunities
• Developing Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) for clients
• Project managing energy projects
• Perform detailed Utility bill analyses of the customer’s energy usage or plant processes and develop recommendations for more efficient equipment operation
• Travelling to visit clients for both day and overnight trips
• Working with partner utilities to earn incentives for clients
• Present energy savings recommendations to clients
Michigan and National Energy Events
The Battery Show North America 2023 is taking place Sept. 12-14 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Register here.
Tickets are available for the 11th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala on Sept. 27 at The Eastern in Detroit.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s $7 billion Solar for All competition will award up to 60 grants to states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and eligible nonprofit recipients to expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities primed for distributed solar investment. Anyone interested must submit a notice of intent (NOI) by the applicable deadline. The NOI deadlines are July 31 for states and territories, August 14 for municipalities and NGOs and August 28 for Tribal governments.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Office of Climate and Energy have posted a solicitation for support for the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program. The RFP can be found on the state of Michigan’s solicitation website. Questions are due Aug. 17 and proposals are due Aug. 30.
Applications for the 1 Hotels Fellowship at Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) are now open. 1 Hotels Fellows will work in partnership with NRDC’s E2 program to identify pressing environmental issues and needs across the country, and then organize and execute projects that help communicate and amplify the business and economic case for smart policies to address these issues. Applications are due by Sept. 5.
The Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity (LEO) has two job openings: Director of Mobility Policy, who will be an advisor to LEO and serve as the lead policy staffer for the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, and Policy Director, who will cover a broad portfolio of issues across the entire department including workforce development, economic mobility and workplace rights and safety.
Organizations currently have the opportunity to work with a grad student from the University of Michigan School for Environment & Sustainability (SEAS) for their Master’s Projects. In these projects, “students work on research teams with client organizations and faculty advisors to address complex environmental issues and design innovative, impactful products,” according to SEAS. Learn more here. Proposals for projects are due by September.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to expand the weatherization assistance program utilizing bipartisan infrastructure law funding for multi-family dwellings. The five-month award begins on May 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2023, with the total available amount being $1 million dollars. Successful applicants may be awarded funding annually through at least Sept. 30, 2028, based upon funding availability and acceptable performance. For more information or to apply, visit the EGrAMS website.
The City of Detroit has issued a Request for Information seeking feedback on the number and type of projects that would best achieve the goal of generating enough renewable energy to power municipal operations and buildings with locally generated and City-owned solar power. Find more information here. Responses are due Oct. 2.