This newsletter was originally published on June 16, 2017.
Michigan Cities Chart Their Own Course on Energy
A growing number of Michigan communities are taking a more active role in determining where their energy comes from, and pushing for a greater share of that energy to come from renewable energy resources. As highlighted in the Michigan EIBC Annual Member Meeting this spring, both Traverse City and Grand Rapids have committed to powering all city services with renewable energy. The Village of Northport, in Leelanau County, also has a goal of meeting 100% of the energy consumption with renewable energy resources.
Last week, following President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, a number of cities around the state responded with public statements that they would continue to work towards the energy and climate targets contained in the agreement. In addition to Grand Rapids and Traverse City, the mayors of Ann Arbor, Buchanan, Detroit, East Lansing, Ferndale, Flint, Hamtramck, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Lapeer, Pleasant Ridge, Rockwood, Royal Oak, and Ypsilanti all announced similar commitments, with a citizens group in Marquette circulating a petition calling on city leadership to do the same. These communities joined a group of 279 cities across the country “working together to create a 21st Century clean energy economy.”
This action follows increased engagement in renewable energy procurement from leading companies in Michigan and across the country, as well as earlier efforts by cities to reduce energy consumption, switch to LED streetlights, streamline permitting for distributed generation projects, and installation of renewable energy projects to help power city operations.
Michigan Energy News:
- According to Patti Poppe, CEO of Consumers Energy, Michigan has “the opportunity of a generation to determine what kind of energy we want to supply for the next hundred years.”
- An SC Johnson manufacturing plant in Bay County now runs entirely on wind energy.
- Tesla’s lawsuit against the state of Michigan over a ban on selling vehicles directly to customers is seeking to gain insight to the relationship between lobbyists for the auto dealers and Michigan policymakers.
- A bipartisan group of Michigan Members of Congress all expressed their disagreement with President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris climate agreement. Republicans David Trott and Fred Upton and Democrats Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence shared their views as part of a discussion at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual Mackinac Policy Conference.
- HB 4457, which would allow Michigan community colleges to utilize tax-exempt lease purchase agreements to finance energy upgrades, passed the House this week on a vote of 108-0. The legislation now heads to the Senate. Similar legislation involving K-12 schools was enacted earlier this year.
- State Representative John Reilly, a Republican from Oakland County, has introduced legislation that would exempt public schools, hospitals, and prisons from the 10% cap on retail open access.
- Consumers Energy is preparing for the installation of its next wind farm in Huron County, a 44MW expansion of its existing Cross Winds farm.
- Detroit-based Phoenix Haus LLC, a company that designs energy-efficient building systems, is creating its first zero-emissions house to showcase its low-cost housing templates.
- A 1920s-era apartment building in eastern Michigan received energy efficiency upgrades through Property Assessed Clean Energy financing that will help it save $600,000 over the next 20 years.
National Energy News:
- Consumers could spend more on energy resources than utilities in the near future, according to a new study from the Smart Electric Power Alliance and Michigan EIBC member company Black and Veatch.
- After other business leaders, including Tesla’s Elon Musk, resigning from White House advisory roles after the controversial decision to abandon the Paris Climate Agreement, General Motors CEO Mary Barra says she will stay on.
- Thirty-five states already comply with the Clean Power Plan emissions targets set for 2022.
- U.S. mayors are considering a resolution to support the goal of 100 percent advanced energy.
- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted Tuesday on nominations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Energy. The Committee voted to advance the nominations of Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, David Bernhardt as Deputy Secretary of the Interior, and Dan Brouillette as Deputy Secretary of Energy.
- Energy Secretary Rick Perry chose Texas energy consultant Alison Silverstein to produce his first major energy policy statement, a study of whether federal tax and subsidy policies have burdened “baseload” coal-fired generation and put power grid reliability at risk. This study has been the subject of controversy, with many worrying it will be biased against advanced energy and in favor of coal.
- The Environmental Protection has a buyout plan to reduce staff by September.
- According to the Energy Information Administration, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction prices are at their lowest since 2014.
- 37 states have begun regulatory or legislative actions to enhance the energy grid, and consumers are becoming more aware of smart grid programs and services. However, participation is still low.
- Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy is launching a venture capital fund to invest in digital startups focused on improving advanced energy reliability.
- Advanced energy sources accounted for nearly one fifth of total national electricity generation in the first quarter of 2017, exceeding EIA targets for 2035.
- The California Senate passed a bill mandating 100% RPS.
- The U.S. residential solar market is projected to decline this year, following at least 16 consecutive years of growth.
- Minnesota’s community solar policy has been a catalyst for development.
- Oregon lawmakers passed a bill to stop homeowners associations from banning rooftop solar installations.
- According to the Energy Information Administration, over half of small-scale photovoltaic generation is coming from residential rooftops.
- Iowa State University students unveiled a solar-powered car that can travel up to 70 miles per hour.
- A South Dakota county adopted new wind energy regulations, including setback distances of four times the height of the turbine.
- Turbine-maker Vestas predicted that wind energy would continue to attract major investment in the U.S. regardless of federal policy, “because it makes economic sense.”
- Demand for coal fell to the lowest level since 1984, according to the Energy Information Administration.
- Innovators around the world re coming up with creative ways to store renewable energy.
- Tesla may not be able to produce battery-powered long-haul trucks that are competitive with modern diesel trucks due to range and cargo limitations.
- An utility in Vermont launched its first electric vehicle rebate program, offering residents a $1,200 rebate on electric vehicles under $50,000.
- A Utah utility will offer its customers a $10,000 discount off the purchase of a 2017 Nissan Leaf.
Michigan Energy Events:
Join Michigan EIBC, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE), and Advancing Women in Energy (AWE) in Detroit for an Advanced Energy Networking Reception hosted by CLEAResult on June 16. There will be a brief program with remarks by Carla Walker-Miller, President and CEO of Walker-Miller Energy Services and President of The AABE Michigan Chapter and Liesl Eichler Clark, President of Michigan EIBC and board member of AWE. Registration for this event is now closed.
Join Groundwork Center and the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association at Northwestern Michigan College June 23-25 in Traverse City for a conference designed to mobilize clean energy investments in homes, businesses, and communities. The conference includes a free film screening, panel discussions, keynote speakers, and a fair. For more information, click here.
The 2017 PlugVolt Battery Seminar is scheduled for July 18-20 in Ann Arbor. Industry leaders, policy decision-makers, and key stakeholders from more than 80 companies are expected to gather at the PlugVolt Battery Seminar to learn more about the challengers and opportunities for energy storage systems in grid/utility storage and automotive applications. Register here.
The Michigan Public Service Commission will host a technical conference on the future of electric vehicle charging on August 9 at the public service commission office, 7109 W. Saginaw Highway, Lansing. Subject matter experts interested in participating in a panel are asked to submit a letter of interest, resume and summary of expertise to Al Freeman at the commission offices or by e-mail to email@example.com.
The 1st Annual Sustainable Detroit Forum is scheduled for October 25. The event will consist of interactive learning, keynotes, and short presentations. Acoustic musicians will perform during breaks. Proposals for presentations will be accepted for Sustainable Projects, Personal Green Stories, and Lessons Learned/Greatest Failures. Proposals are due July 14.
National Energy Events:
TRC is hosting a two-day conference on Developing Solar on Landfills and Brownfields on June 12-13 in Chicago. The event brings together landowners, who will learn about how to turn their brownfield liabilities into clean energy assets, while solar developers will learn how to choose and develop on brownfields.
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.
A web site from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on the laws, which took effect on April 20. For more information, or to sign up for notifications, visit www.michigan.gov/energylegislation.