This newsletter was originally published on November 10, 2017.
MPSC Chairman Sally Talberg, Bedrock Detroit, Powerley and CLEAResult honored Energy Innovators Gala
The 5th Annual Michigan Energy Innovators Gala was Thursday, November 9, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center in East Lansing. This event provides the opportunity for Michigan’s advanced energy industry to recognize those businesses, policymakers, and others who are doing the most to build the industry in Michigan.
Valerie Brader, Executive Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, offered the opening remarks. Valerie’s service with the administration began in 2011 and prior to this role, she served as Deputy Legal Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Snyder.
Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association, gave the keynote address. Abby oversees all of SEIA’s activities, including government affairs, research, communications, and industry leadership.
This year, awards were presented to the following individuals and organizations:
Public Official of the Year
Michigan Public Service Commission Chairman Sally Talberg
Business of the Year
Emerging Business of the Year
Employer of the Year
Congrats to the award winners!
Michigan Energy News:
- Small-scale, independent power producers are telling Michigan lawmakers a regulatory decision over payments from utilities may force them to close.
- The president and CEO of Michigan-based Consumers Energy discusses the current transformational period of the utility sector, highlighting the need to refocus on renewables.
- Consumers Energy broke ground on its new Coldwater service center, which the utility says will be environmentally friendly.
- Michigan State University will spend $50 million in the coming years to upgrade its campus power plant with new boilers.
- Michigan Tech will conduct a climate survey.
- Preliminary results from the Michigan Transmission Expansion Study show that none of the electrical transmission line tie-ins between Michigan and Canada studied would be financially worthwhile.
- Public facilities in Michigan continue to save millions with PACE.
- A solar power firm is looking to move into St. Clair.
- Ann Arbor is still seeking input on a proposed solar energy system ordinance.
- Developers are eyeing an industrial park in eastern Michigan for three 2MW solar projects.
- Huron County now hosts over 470 wind turbines.
- There’s a new wind ordinance in the works in Arcadia Township.
- A federal judge ruled against wind developer Tuscola Wind LLC, subsidiary of NextEra Energy, in a recent case.
- LED lights are expected to save the Spring Lake Public School District $4,000 annually.
- In the wake of OEMs’ increased investment in autonomy, Bill Ford says automakers “can’t rush robotic cars”, and this position could hurt Ford Motor Company.
- Ceres and M.J. Bradley & Associates released an analysis on the costs and benefits of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, which found that the rewards of investing in charging infrastructure far outweigh the costs.
News from Washington:
- A tax overhaul bill in the House proposes keeping most tax breaks for the oil industry intact while cutting credits for wind energy and eliminating them for big solar and geothermal projects. The plan would also eliminate the tax credit of up to $7,500 currently offered to buyers of electric vehicles.
- House Majority Whip Steve Scalise introduced a bipartisan energy bill that would encourage offshore oil, natural gas and wind production, following from the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda.
- During a four-hour Senate meeting, Democrats and Republicans debated whether to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
- Over 80 House and Senate Democrats send a letter asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke not to delay or repeal an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions from drilling sites on federal lands.
- The federal government released its National Climate Assessment report that is mandated by law, detailing the growing threats of climate change and affirming that human action is a key driver of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Amidst FBI investigation, Former Puerto Rico official Elias Sanchez denied having any relationship with the small Montana contractor Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC.
- The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a nomination hearing for Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist tapped to be the deputy director of the EPA, and Kathleen Hartnett White, who has been labeled a climate change denier by critics, to lead the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality.
- President Trump will nominate Linda Capuano to lead the Energy Information Administration.
- The Department of Energy is working on a report about the costs and benefits of net metering, which “could be consequential for the solar industry.”
- After barring researchers who have received EPA grants, Administrator Scott Pruitt appointed 66 new experts to three of the agency’s scientific committees.
- The EPA will hold a public hearing this month in West Virginia on its plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan.
- The EPA found that the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era climate rule, could prevent more premature deaths than the Obama administration had estimated. The EPA included the forecast in a draft analysis of its repeal of the rule, which the agency views as regulatory overreach.
- The Senate confirmed Republican Kevin McIntyre and Democrat Richard Glick to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, creating a full five-member board for the first time in two years.
- FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said that some power customers may need to pay higher electric bills in order to prop up the declining coal-mining industry, but insisted “it would not be a federal subsidy.”
- A FERC review ordered by the Trump administration found few regulatory barriers to energy production, with most issues involving hydropower.
- The United Nations’ climate conference will convene in Bonn, Germany to discuss ways to implement the Paris climate agreement. The Trump administration will promote American fossil fuels and nuclear power during its presentation during the conference, according to the White House.
Cities & Communities leading in Advanced Energy:
- Officials in Rochester, Minnesota see a future with more renewable energy powering the city.
- Alaska’s governor signs an order to develop a climate plan for the state.
Grid & Efficiency News:
- Declining renewable energy costs coupled with more energy storage “will not be capable of meeting the baseload generation needs of a developed economy for the foreseeable future,” according to a new analysis.
- Utilities estimate hurricanes caused up to $2.5 billion in damages this year.
- In a move to improve grid resiliency, Ameren Corp. joined more than two dozen other utilities in a program that shares critical transmission equipment in the wake of disasters.
- A new report says consolidated, monopoly utilities deliver fewer customer benefits than alleged and undermine the public interest.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $2.5 billion investment in rural electric infrastructure improvements in 27 states.
- Clean energy and consumer advocates want Iowa regulators to carefully scrutinize a utility’s grid modernization plan, citing uncertainty over how $300 million a year would be spent.
- U.S. military spending on microgrids in order to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2026.
- Duke Energy announced a plan to strengthen South Carolina’s energy grid by investing $3 billion over the next 10 years.
- North Dakota regulators approved a utility’s plan to build a 250MW natural gas plant to replace a Minnesota coal plant, but delay a siting decision for a 150MW wind project that’s also part of the replacement plan.
- Advocates say energy efficiency savings are on the upswing in Indiana, but not at levels they could be following the repeal of a key policy three years ago.
- A new smartphone app in use in California aims to help customers cut peak demand.
Solar Energy News:
- A comparison of Midwestern states’ solar policies.
- Shares of solar companies including Vivint Solar Inc. and Enphase Energy Inc. fell ahead of the release of the House’s tax reform proposal, which may threaten a key federal tax credit for solar power investment.
- More utilities are proposing to put solar customers into a “separate Distributed Generation customer class,” starting new debates between utilities and solar advocates.
- Opposition to privatizing Puerto Rico’s electric grid will make it difficult to bring widespread solar power to the island.
- States in the Southeast are rapidly expanding their solar markets, despite a lack of renewable-friendly policies.
- Indiana utilities and their political action committees poured millions into the general assembly this year in the form of gifts, entertainment, campaign contributions and lobbying as lawmakers considered net metering changes. Installers, ratepayers and clean energy groups are concerned Indiana’s solar market will stagnate or collapse after the state begins to phase out net metering in January.
- An Indiana school district completed a $3 million solar project that’s expected to pay itself off in four years.
- As part of a settlement over a coal gasification plant in Indiana, nonprofits in the state received grants from Duke Energy to install solar panels.
- The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has installed five solar projects at city parks over the past two years, saving residents tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs a year.
- Minnesota Power unveiled a 9-acre community solar garden near Duluth.
- Third-party ownership as a financing model for solar projects is taking off in Minnesota.
- Tesla says it will begin production of its new solar roof in Buffalo, New York, by the end of this year.
- An Oregon agency reversed approval of a solar project that was planned on prime farmland.
- Local officials and labor unions in a central Illinois community are holding public meetings to discuss the potential for large-scale solar projects.
- A city in northwest Illinois is considering using statewide tax credits to build a solar project to reduce utility costs for its water treatment plant.
Wind Energy News:
- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said wind energy can help provide new job opportunities for former coal miners.
- A Missouri utility filed plans for a $1.5 billion wind energy project, tripling its current wind. The utility also plans to close a coal plant.
- Wind energy set a new production record in New York earlier this week.
- Ohio landowners discussed proposed changes to wind turbine setback rules.
- A farming family in Ohio is making waves in the clean energy sector with anaerobic digesters.
- One of the largest ethanol plants in the country abruptly closed in Iowa.
- Researchers at a Kansas university are looking to use natural waste from sources like tea leaves as high-performance, lightweight batteries.
Fossil Fuel News:
- Lawmakers want to close Alaska’s budget deficit by opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, even as the state is struggling to pay for the effects of climate change.
- At the start of a 12-day evidentiary hearing, an Enbridge official testified that the Line 3 pipeline through northern Minnesota is increasingly subject to corrosion and cracking and needs replacing.
- Dynegy claims that its coal plants in southern Illinois face unique challenges of “bad rate designs from the region’s grid operator and by new state subsidies for nuclear plants.”
- There has been no sustained employment rebound in Kentucky for coal mining so far, data from July through September shows. In fact, coal miner Armstrong Energy Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection and plans to transfer ownership of its operations, including five mines, to a new entity owned by a competitor.
Technology & Market News:
- HSBC Holdings PLC will commit $100 billion for clean energy technology and sustainable development by 2025 and reduce support for coal-fired power generation. HSBC’s new policies follow a similar move from JPMorgan Chase & Co., which in July pledged to facilitate $200 billion in financing for clean energy projects through 2025.
Vehicle & Mobility News:
- A new study says electric vehicles could represent nearly half of all new vehicles sold worldwide by 2030, though the increase may not be as dramatic in the U.S.
- Tesla delayed the full production of its new Model 3 into next year.
- New legislation would allow Tesla to sell its vehicles directly to customers in Wisconsin, bypassing dealerships.
- Tesla acquired a Minnesota company that will become an “engineering outpost” for the automaker.
- Industry leaders gathered in Ohio last week are optimistic about the future of fuel cell buses and say the fuel cell industry could add 65,000 jobs for the Midwest by 2032.
- Lamborghini and MIT are developing a new all-electric supercar that would work without a traditional battery.
Michigan Energy Events:
Michigan EIBC is hosting a Wind 101 Lunch & Learn on November 28 for legislators and legislative staff. Sign up here.
National Energy Events:
Sign up for the free CEE Technology Forum, November 7 at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. See how tech piloting, program design, and partnerships will define our next era of energy efficiency. Speakers from Nest, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, EPRI, Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association, Xcel Energy, and Northwest Power & Conservation Council.
The 2017 U.S. Power and Renewables Summit will take place in Austin on November 7-8. The conference, hosted by Greentech Media, provides an in-depth look at how solar, wind, and related renewable energy technologies are impacting power markeys, and how this interaction is raising key questions and challenges for the industry moving forward.
EUCI invites you to “An Introduction to Electric Utility Systems,” December 7 – 8 in San Diego, California. This seminar is targeted toward increasing the knowledge of non-technical staff who work or have an interest in the electric utility industry. Participants who are not familiar with utilities and electric power systems can significantly benefit from attending. Since this is a basic seminar, a prior background in electric utility systems or engineering is not expected or required. Register here.
EUCI invites you to the Electric Vehicle-Utility Industry Nexus, December 11-12, 2017 in Anaheim, California. Register here.
The U.S. Energy Storage Summit 2017 is taking place December 12-13 in San Francisco. Now in
its third year, this event brings together utilities, financiers, regulators, technology innovators, and storage practitioners for two full days of data-intensive presentations, analyst-led panel sessions with industry leaders, and extensive, high-level networking.
Registration is now open for the 2017 Veteran’s Energy Seminar on December 14 in Chicago. This one-day training for military veterans and reservists will include classroom sessions and panels on global energy security challenges. Learn more and register to attend by clicking here.
Mark your calendar for the 5th National Conference on Next Generation Demand Response on February 7-8, in San Diego, California. For more information, and to register, visit the event website here.
A website from the Michigan Public Service Commission provides details on updates to state energy laws. For more information, or to sign up for notifications, visit www.michigan.gov/energylegislation.