Newsletter: Michigan EIBC Defends Renewables in Lansing

This newsletter was originally published on May 11, 2015.

Michigan EIBC Defends Renewables in Lansing

Last week in a Michigan House Energy Policy Committee hearing focused on the future of renewable energy in Michigan, Michigan EIBC President Dan Scripps and other Michigan EIBC members testified in opposition to House Bill 4927, which would freeze the renewable standard at 10 percent by 2015. Since the creation of the renewable standard in 2008, Michigan’s renewable energy sector has spurred 1.5 gigawatts of new electricity generation, added $2.9 billion in economic activity, and supported 20,500 Michigan jobs, all at a fraction of the anticipated cost. Despite these gains, Committee Chair Aric Nesbitt released a press statement following the Committee hearing, arguing that “the only thing the cookie-cutter mandate system offers is a high price tag, which is eventually passed on to the consumer and ratepayer.”

Joining Scripps in testifying on behalf of Michigan EIBC were Anand Gangadharan, CEO of NOVI Energy, and Connor Field, CEO of Helios Solar, LLC. Gangadharan made a clear case for why the RPS was so instrumental in bringing renewables to Michigan. He talked about how his company had been located in Novi since 2002, but did not start a project in the state until after the RPS was put in place. Field brought up the fact that had it not been for the RPS, young and creative professionals in this field would have left Michigan for states that were more renewable friendly. In addition, Scripps called for maintaining and expanding the renewable energy standard, and ensuring meaningful market access for independent project developers.

In addition to Michigan EIBC’s testimony, a number of Michigan EIBC members testified for their own organizations about the importance of renewables, including Michigan Biomass and the Greater Gratiot Development, Inc..


MPSC Approves Consumers’ Community Solar Program, Calls for Working Groups on Solar Valuation and Standby Charges

The Michigan Public Service Commission yesterday approved the addition of a community solar program to Consumer Energy’s renewable energy plan, while directing MPSC staff to convene a Solar working group to focus on the appropriate value of capacity in the “value of solar” computation. The value of solar approach calculates the bill credit to community solar subscribers who purchase shares of the community solar offering.

This working group, which follows a previous – and broader – solar working group that met in 2014, will be made up of utility representatives and other interested stakeholder. In determining the appropriate capacity value associated with the community solar project, the group will consider capacity values in different contexts, including the MISO annual auction, cost of new entry (CONE – i.e. the cost of constructing a new generating plant), Consumers’ acquisition of capacity through private auction, embedded capacity costs, and tariffed costs for stand-by capacity. MPSC staff has until September 30 to file a report with recommendations for a more predictable and fair value of solar calculation method.

In addition to this capacity value working group, MPSC staff, in testimony filed with Consumers’ pending rate case, also recommended a separate working group to consider whether the standby charges assessed for solar projects and CHP installations. Specifically, the proposed workgroup would provide background on the current rate methodology, run a series of standby rate scenarios to understand impact of rates on various types of distributed generation projects, evaluate how other states with more robust distributed generation development have handled standby rates, and whether there is methodology that would more precisely reflect the costs and benefits of serving customers with distributed generation.  The result of the working group process would be a staff report added to the docket in the Consumers’ case.


Upcoming Michigan Energy Events
The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association’s annual Michigan Energy Fair will be held this year on June 26-27, 2015 at the Ingham County Fairgrounds in Mason.

Save the date: Michigan EIBC is hosting an Ann Arbor networking lunch on Friday, August 7 at Sakti3. Additional details and registration will be available shortly. The event is free for Michigan EIBC members, $25 for non-members.


Upcoming National Energy Events

The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER 2015 Conference and Exposition is being held May 18-21 in Orlando, FL.

Advanced Energy Economy Institute is hosting a webinar, “Not Taking ‘No’ For An Answer: How Microsoft and Walmart Overcame Barriers and Got the Renewable Energy They Wanted” on May 28, 2015 at 9 a.m. PT / 12 pm ET.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE) is hosting its annual Energy Efficiency Finance Forum on May 30-June 2 in San Francisco.

The 12th Annual Renewable Energy Finance Forum – Wall Street is taking place June 24-25 in New York.

Fortune’s ’Brainstorm E: Where Energy, Technology, and Sustainability Meet’ will take place September 28-29 in Austin.  


Michigan Advanced Energy News

  • House Speaker Kevin Cotter this week announced his plan for funding road improvements in the wake of the failure of Proposal 1, including singling out electric vehicles and hybrids for additional fees. This comes less than a month after Ford announced it was laying off 700 workers due to lower-than-expected hybrid and EV sales resulting from low gas prices.
  • Michigan EIBC Member ITC announced this week it had completed the $510 million Thumb Loop transmission project, helping to connect the growing number of wind farms located in the Thumb, as well as providing more reliable transmission service to the region.
  • Rockford-based Temper, Inc. secured a $100,000 grant through NextEnergy’s Michigan Accelerating Technology (MATch) grant program to develop an energy-efficient molding process for thermoformed composite components for Boeing. The MATch grant will also allow Temper to access additional funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.
  • Michigan EIBC President Dan Scripps has been invited to serve on a new stakeholder group organized by the Michigan Energy Office to develop a roadmap that aligns electric utility business interests and customer behavior with public policy goals. The stakeholder group begins a series of meetings next month and is scheduled to conclude this fall.
  • A week after announcing its Powerwall home energy storage product, Tesla Motors has acquired its first Michigan plant, in Cascade Township outside of Grand Rapids.
  • State Representative Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) and former state Senator Patty Birkholz (R-Saugatuck) co-authored a guest column in the Kalamazoo Gazette supporting the expansion of the renewable standard.
  • Consumers Energy has named Brandon Hofmeister the utility’s new Executive Director of Policy, Research and Public Affairs. In a MIRS podcast, Hofmeister this week referred to the proposal to extend the renewable energy standard to 20 percent by 2022 as “aggressive” while noting Consumers’ plans to build more renewable energy.
  • DTE Energy is moving forward with a 1.1 MW solar array outside of Ann Arbor – but not with the original location at the City-owned airport.
  • published a story on PACE financing and its advantages.
  • A Michigan Senate bill that’s sponsor says is designed to safeguard critical infrastructure information is being criticized for potentially hiding information about the safety of oil and gas pipelines.
  • In a letter this week, the Federal Trade Commission took strong issue with a state law passed last year that strengthened Michigan’s ban on direct sales of new vehicles by automotive manufacturers, a strategy that’s usedby electric vehicle maker Tesla.
  • The Lansing Board of Water and Light and Consumers Energy have agreed on the framework of a deal where BWL would be entitled to half of the profits for supplying electricity to the new MUS Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), though Consumers Energy would actually deliver power. The framework, which a BWL official described as “essentially … a settlement” arises out of a dispute as to whether BWL has a claim to the FRIB site as part of BWL’s service territory.
  • Following his arrest earlier this week on multiple felony counts, State Senator Virgil Smith has been removed from his committee and caucus assignments, including his position on the Senate Energy and Technology Committee.


National Advanced Energy News




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.