Newsletter: Michigan EIBC President Liesl Clark Addresses UP Energy Summit; State Legislature Focuses Attention on Energy Storage

This newsletter was originally published on May 30, 2018.

Michigan EIBC President Liesl Clark Addresses UP Energy Summit

The annual UP Energy Summit brings industry leaders and policy makers together to discuss the energy challenges and opportunities in the Upper Peninsula. This year’s conference held last week on May 23 was an impressive gathering of regulators, utility representatives, advocates, and industry leaders including a number of Michigan EIBC member companies.

At the conference, Michigan EIBC president Liesl Clark gave a closing statement, bringing together the themes of the day: momentum, change, and planning.

“One of the most important themes that we’ve observed this year is momentum,” Clark said, “the way in which energy markets are rapidly changing and evolving to meet customer demands including integrating advanced energy resources, electrified and autonomous vehicles, and more.”

Clark outlined several of these changes in her remarks. She noted that Michigan’s energy profile is changing along with the nation’s and the world’s and that dynamic is clear in the Upper Peninsula. As the cost of advanced energy declines and technology improves, demand for advanced energy grows. For instance, the cost of wind has dropped 60% since 2009 and for solar has dropped 80%. At the same time, demand from corporate purchasers, cities, universities, hospitals and others continues to increase. As that demand increases, the grid is evolving. There is a growing queue for PURPA projects, increasing demand for a shared electric transportation system, growing markets for storage, and growth opportunities for demand response. Looking towards that grid of the future, several core attributes remain critical – universal access, safety, reliability, affordability and equitable cost allocation. It’s important that our modern grid is able to provide additional attributes that are becoming increasingly important including greater resiliency, adaptability or flexibility, and greater customer control.

As our utilities and grid operators approach greater integration of distributed energy resources and grid modernization, there is a unique opportunity to innovate and to harness that change to benefit Michigan. To seize this opportunity, there needs to be collaboration between all stakeholders through the planning processes. A panel featuring all three Michigan Public Service Commissioners reinforced the need for collaboration and planning. The Commissioners also shared their perspectives on the ongoing implementation of the 2016 energy legislation. Chairman Sally Talberg indicated that Upper Peninsula ratepayers are better off after comprehensive energy reforms took effect last year.

As market changes continue to drive demand for advanced energy, Clark emphasized that it is up to the legislature and Public Service Commission to plan to accommodate this new frontier. Quoting President Eisenhower, Clark stated, “plans are useless, but planning is essential.”

State Legislature Focuses Attention on Energy Storage

On Thursday May 24, Nicole Luckey, Director of Regulatory and Government Affairs for the Midwest of Michigan EIBC member company Invenergy, testified in favor of a Senate Resolution 170 sponsored by Senate Energy and Technology Committee Chair Mike Nofs. The resolution urges the Michigan Agency for Energy to study how energy storage can provide value to Michigan consumers based and address the feasibility of energy storage in Michigan, including 1) services energy storage can provide that are not being performed currently, 2) the economic potential or impact of energy storage deployment in Michigan, and 3) the identification of existing policies and recommended policy changes that may be considered to address a statewide coordinated energy storage policy.

“There is no denying that we are in the midst of a significant sea change in the energy sector,” Luckey said. “The cost of wind and solar generation continues to decline, motivating utilities to procure these resources en masse and lock in their low cost to the benefit of ratepayers.” Luckey referenced a recent announcement that DTE Energy and Consumers Energy would commit to increasing their renewable energy portfolios to a 25% renewable energy goal and 25% energy efficiency goal by 2030. She noted that utilities are also making significant investments in their distribution systems, including installing smart devices and enabling distributed generation technologies.  As utilities develop five-year distribution plans, “storage is the next piece of the puzzle in this energy revolution,” Luckey said.

Luckey stated that nearly 800 MW of battery storage projects are currently installed across the country. She added that battery storage technology is declining in cost, noting that the cost for lithium-ion batteries is dropping by 50% every 3 to 4 years and projected to continue at this rate. As such,the U.S. is forecasted to quadruple its installed storage capacity in 5 years.

After providing background on the growing demand for storage, Luckey highlighted a few benefits of investing in energy storage technology, including the following:

  • It provides back-up power to prevent service disruptions;
  • It provides faster, more efficient and cost-effective responses to short-run grid fluctuations to avoid unexpected outages;
  • It helps utilities avoid or defer costly transmission and distribution infrastructure upgrades and respond quickly to broad infrastructure failures;
  • It supplements the natural variability of wind and solar resources as utilities retire older fossil fuel resources; and
  • It helps inflexible non-renewable resources like coal, nuclear, and natural gas operate more efficiently.

Luckey closed out her remarks stating, “Storage technology is flexible, cost effective, and ready to be deployed today – however, policy, regulations, energy markets and legislative initiatives have not yet caught up with the technology.” She argued that Senator Nofs’ resolution would be a step in the right direction to making energy storage more mainstream.

To provide more information on energy storage, Michigan EIBC and the Institute for Energy Innovation will hold a Storage 101 Lunch & Learn at the House Office Building in Lansing on June 6. The panel discussion, featuring Ray Hohenstein of Fluence, Kate Howling of Invenergy, and Himanshu Sudan of eCAMION, will give state legislators and staff the opportunity to learn more about energy storage from industry experts and Michigan EIBC members. Michigan EIBC members can sign up to attend here.

New Members:

GEM Energy provides comprehensive services and technologies to improve customer business performance and reduce facility operation costs by providing expertise in engineering, procurement, construction, operations and maintenance. Services include combined heat and power (CHP) systems; HVAC and plumbing, facility management, utility procurement, solar development and building automation controls for the commercial, industrial, institutional and mission critical markets. GEM Energy is part of the Rudolph Libbe Group (RLG), a one-stop provider of construction and facility services ranging  from site selection and construction to energy solutions and ongoing facility management. The full-service contractor, comprised of Rudolph Libbe Inc., GEM Inc., GEM Energy, Lehman Daman and Rudolph Libbe Properties, is focused on ensuring its customers succeed.  Our headquarters is in Toledo with offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Lima, Ohio; Ithaca, New York; and Detroit, Michigan areas.

Michigan Energy Stories

  • A bill to determine rates for Michigan EIBC member company Hemlock Semiconductor passed the state house.
  • DTE Energy will soon market the site of a former power plant near downtown Detroit for redevelopment.
  • At the UP Energy Summit, State Representative Beau LaFave said of his Upper Peninsula district, “We have the highest electricity prices in the Upper Peninsula – in the entire continental United States. We’ve got to do something about it.”
  • Some claim that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality didn’t appropriately evaluate alternatives when it approved additional anchor supports for Line 5.
  • State agency decisions, including lower standby rates for co-generation plants and lifted stand-by rates for solar, should make it easier for certain companies to add advanced energy projects.
  • Governor Rick Snyder signed an emergency order barring anchor use in the Straits of Mackinac following an incident last month that severed transmission lines and dented the Line 5 pipeline.
  • An energy analyst notes that a deal for Michigan’s largest utilities – DTE Energy and Consumers Energy – to hit higher renewable energy targets lacks accountability measures.
  • The U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese company, Osaka Gas USA, plans to acquire all shares in Michigan Power, a west Michigan power plant.
  • solar-powered mural will light up the new Lansing Board of Water & Light substation in Lansing’s REO Town.
  • University of Michigan researchers found that LED light bulbs are more expensive in high-poverty areas near Detroit compared to the wealthiest areas.

Michigan Energy Leaders

  • The Marinette & Menominee Area Community Foundation (MMACF) established an ad hoc energy team to manage an energy education and conservation initiative in Marinette and Menominee counties. MMACF will receive funding and organizational support from the C.S. Mott Foundation to engage and encourage the transition of the two-county area into “clean energy communities.”

National Energy Stories

  • The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill for the 2019 fiscal year that includes $375 millionfor the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which funds energy technology projects.
  • Vistra Energy and Dominion Energy say they will stop building combined-cycle natural gas plants and focus on solar instead.
  • Many utilities are investing cautiouslyin renewables.
  • The International Energy Agency calculated that four out of 38 energy technologies and sectors – solar photovoltaic, electric vehicles, lighting, and data centers and networks – were on track last yearto meet climate and air pollution goals in the long term.
  • A Rocky Mountain Institute report predicts building new clean energy will be cheaper than continuing to operate gas-fired power plants within the next two decades.

National Energy Leaders

  • Reports say Illinois is headed toward a clean energy future due to 2016 energy reforms and declining renewable energy prices.
Michigan Energy Events

Michigan EIBC, Advancing Women in Energy (AWE), and The American Association of Blacks in Energy will cohost an advanced energy networking reception on June 11 from 5-7 pm at CLEAResult offices in Detroit. Register here.

Michigan EIBC’s third EV Convening on DC fast charging and long-dwell charging is scheduled for June 14at the Michigan Agency for Energy’s office in Lansing. The meeting will featurespeakers including Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation; Wayne Killen, Senior Director of Infrastructure Operations and Bustiness Development for Electrify America; and Robert Jackson, Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy. Register here.

On July 17-19, PlugVolt will be hosting its next Battery Seminar in Plymouth, Michigan (USA), featuring an entire day of in-depth training by EnerDelon Lithium Ion technology, alongside complementary industry updates by automotive and grid storage OEMs, global battery manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers. Attendees also get a tour of Intertek’s Battery Testing Center. Register here.

Michigan EIBC’s fourth EV Convening on fleets is scheduled for July 18at the Michigan Agency for Energy’s office in Lansing. Watch your inboxes for registration details.

National Energy Events   

Join ACI in San Francisco on June 6-7 for Grid-Scale Storage 2018 and learn through different panel discussions, site tours, workshops, and presentations on the significant market opportunities for energy storage. Register here.

You’re invited to present, advertise, exhibit, or sponsor at The Energy Fair, June 15-17 in Custer, Wisconsin. Learn more and register here.

You’re invited to the EV Roadmap 11June 19-20 in Portland, Oregon. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the Renewable Energy Credit (REC) Market Dynamics & Trading conference, June 19-20, in Boston, Massachusetts. Register here.

June 22ndin Traverse City Groundworks will host the MI Clean Energy Expo and Conference.

EUCI invites you to the Fundamentals of Distributed Resource (DER) System Planning conference on June 25 – 26in Chicago, Illinois. Register here.

The 2018 Renewable Energy Conference: A Leadership Forum on Energy PolicyJune 26in Poughkeepsie, New York, will feature IBM’s Dr. John Kelly. Don’t miss the premier renewable energy conference on the East Coast! Register today!

You’re invited to the Grid Evolution Summit hosted by Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), in Washington, D.C., July 9-12Register here.

EUCI invites you to the Smart Cities 2018 Conference on August 13-14in Columbus, Ohio. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the Retooling PURPA conference on August 20-21in Atlanta, Georgia. Register here.

EUCI invites you to the “Land Lease Agreements for Renewable Energy 101” conference on September 13-14, in Austin, Texas. Register here.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) invite you to Solar Power International, September 24-27, in Anaheim, California. Registration opens in spring of 2018 here.

Announcements and Opportunities

The Department of Energy has announced up to $68.5 million in funding for early-stage research of advanced vehicle technologies that will enable more affordable mobility, strengthen domestic energy security, and enhance U.S. economic growth. Projects should address advanced batteries and electrification, light-weight vehicle structures and advanced powertrains, technology integration and energy-efficient mobility systems, and engines and fuels. Concept papers are due May 29and full applications will be due July 13Learn more here.

The EPA has announced the availability of $40 Million in Diesel Emission Reduction Program (DERA) funds. The deadline to apply is June 12You can apply here.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced $60 Million in Advanced Transportation Technologies grants, including Smart Mobility and Smart Cities technologies, and projects that bring data together from different systems, such as integrated corridor management and real-time traveler information. The deadline for applications is June 18. Learn about eligibility criteria here.